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Ihsahn - The Adversary CD (album) cover

THE ADVERSARY

Ihsahn

 

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

3.95 | 74 ratings

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StrangeWorld
4 stars Pretty much following the progressive vein of Emperor's Prometheus, this album adds something new to the nearly drained out black metal scene. I wasn't expecting a masterpiece like Prometheus and did not exactly get it, but this album still amazes me with the pure joy of creating that shines trough all the material with very little exception. Having less atonal and more classical approach than on Prometheus, I think Ihsahn is one of the most capable and determined composers of the present.

The overall mood of the album is pretty aggressive and harsh since most songs are basically black metal, but being completely straight-forward only occasionally (of which the best example could be the first track, Invocation, still having an unexpected calm section in the middle). Lots of complex riffs, tricky chord progressions and some odd-time signatures keep up the interest while the album is still maintaining cohesive song structures and compositional quality. Melodical beaty also strikes there and here creating a good contrast and balance without any sign of forcing it into the realms of black metal, and actually this side of Ihsahn is much more apparent here than on Prometheus and makes this Ihsahn's most diverse work up to date. The only fusionish (and perhaps early Dream Theater-influenced) track is Homecoming which begins with a heavy jazz riff in an odd-time signature and then suddenly progresses into a calm, dreamy section with Garm's multi-layered vocals (not the most impressive work from Garm, but fitting the atmosphere very well). Citizen, Panem Et Circenses, And He Shall Walk In Empty Places and Will You Love Me Now? are the heaviest and craziest songs off the album, offering pure black metal insanity, so any Emperor fan should not be at least let down with this album. I think the only boring song is Astera Ton Proinon which doesn't offer any interesting musical explorations and is played in a very slow tempo, making me just waiting the song to end (now I use the skip-button of course).

Ihsahn being a multi-talented musician, handles all vocals and instruments except drums. I'm positively surprised that he, besides a composer, still keeps improving himself also as a musician (unlike most metal artists who just keeps bashing the same stuff until they're completely drained out of energy and inspiration), both as a guitarist (just listen to the solo of Called By The Fire) and vocalist (the second section of the last track, the epic The Pain Is Still Mine, shows how dynamic and strong his voice actually is, even having some sense of classical technique which fits this kind of music just perfectly). His harsh vocals, having some actual depth unlike in the case of most screamers and growlers, continue to be one of my favourites, even though they have lost some strength. But it is incredible that he has kept his clean voice in such a good shape for a harsh vocalist and even strengthening it as I already mentioned. He also does a fine job with keyboards. Asgeir Mickelson does some pretty original drumming, especially on the calm sections but also does prove himself to be a proper extreme metal drummer doing a good bunch of blast-beasts and double-bass showing a good stamina and self-discipline which often seems to be lost among many metal drummers who just blast out some five second stupidly fast parts at a time and then do some lousy fills or half-speed beats before continuing the original speed. My only complaint here is the snare drum which is buried too deep in the mix when playing blast-beats, and of course the triggered bass-drum sound which on the other hand is understandable with such speeds.

The lyrics are a positive step from Emperor-era material to a more thoughtful and reasonable direction. Still having some satanic and social darwinistic influence (though Ihsahn does not exactly think of himself a satanist anymore, as far as I understand), there are some good and spiky notions that should not be over-looked, for example Citizen's critic towards conformism in a society that is determined to silence the ones who do not accept the common way of living and dare to stand their exceptional views. But more than anything, the passion is still here.

StrangeWorld | 4/5 |

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