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Ihsahn - angL CD (album) cover

ANGL

Ihsahn

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal


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laplace
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars Ihsahn attempts to recapture that fire (and demise) and gifts us all with another three quarters of an hour's vamp-groove in the gothic, self-conscious fashion that fits him so well.

It's dull, though. Ihsahn must have dominated the writing process while in Emperor and Peccatum because his solo music is a neat continuation of those bands all stirred in with considerable Opeth influence (and vice-versa, since metal is often such a spiral towards copyism), and like that band, although the songs are dressed up in intellectualism and experiment they each remain predictable, particularly as they are SO CLOSELY ROOTED in songs the man has already written.

There exist very proggy sections which will suit this generation of musos - bouts of fretless bass and guitar interplay here, descending pseudorandom riffs there. The songs average five minutes of length, so alternate sections are swapped in to keep the music from stagnating, which I appreciate. angL is not so extreme as anything by Emperor because Opeth syndrome has crept in, so instead of having a heavy song you have a heavy, repetitive part of one which then returns to more gothic climes - a very acceptable and safe way of diluting an extreme genre, one that's expected of mellowing musicians. All in all, the album is comfortably aimed at coffee-table metalheads. This may describe you, in which case, you might want to buy Ihsahn's album instead of Opeth's this year.

For the rest of us, who aren't so taken in by this false dichotomy between light and shade nor this cynical attempt at bring extreme to the mature (music in this reviewer's view can be either one or the other, which isn't to say that extreme music is bad but simply that it should not be tempered) this album is safely ignorable, or at least, be sure to have heard Peccatum's Lost in Reverie first, since that album is far more charming and Ihsahn does better work, there.

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Send comments to laplace (BETA) | Report this review (#173109)
Posted Friday, June 06, 2008 | Review Permalink
The T
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars IHSAHN has out-done himself and has released an even better album than "The Adversary."

A few weeks ago I rated IHSAHN's first solo album with the maximum rating. Now comes the time when I would love to have the possibility to give half stars to albums, as this one, his latest release, it's actually better and deserves a full rating. "The Adversary" could survive with a 4.5.

What makes this album even better than its predecessor is the fact that the riffs sound more interesting this time around, and also that IHSAHN has, in a way, returned to his black-metal roots. Whereas in the previous record black metal's influence was noticeable but not omnipresent, in "Angl" we have a few tracks that go back totally to the times of glory of the most pagan of metal genres. The first song is actually the best example. "Misanthrope" is a total black metal opus, complete with tremolo picking, chaotic blast-beat drums, background keyboards and insane high-pitched grunts.

At the same time, IHSAHN surprises us with even more melody than last time, a more unique sound, almost free of any reference to any other band, and more to-the-point songs. The tracks are all about 5 minutes long. There's no time lost in aimless solos or unnecessary repetitions. The structures chosen are precise, brief, yet not totally regular.

The dark origins of this music can still be felt and even more so than in "The Adversary". In "Angl", there's a constant ominous atmosphere that permeates the whole record, topped with the use of high- pitched vocals in a higher percentage than in the earlier album, where there were more clean vocals to be found. Anyway, the balance is still here, and in no song is it better appreciated than in the album's best, "Elevator", with its fantastic riff that receives a very interesting twist. Another masterpiece is "Scarab", with its zigzagging riff and the surprisingly elegant second section. "Unhealer" is another one of the highlights, with guest vocals by OPETH's Mikael Akerfeldt, who gives probably his best performance of the year (including his own band's "Watershed"). The Swede shows more talent for melody than ever (maybe with the exception of his acoustic album "Damnation"), and at the same time when he growls, his voice gets more sinister, more demonic than ever. "Threnody" is another success, with its dark atmosphere and narcotic vocals.

The musicianship is, as before, magnificent. Ihsahn the man provides IHSAHN the band with all the necessary elements for success: himself, and a drummer. The Norwegian master performs every instrument very skillfully, and he's backed with probably one of the top drummers in all rock and metal, Asgeir Mickelson of SPIRAL ARCHITECT.

An early candidate for album of the year in my view, IHSAHN's "Angl" deserves to be in every prog- metal fan's collection. This is not a mere repetition of a successful formula but an improvement over an already fantastic debut.

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Send comments to The T (BETA) | Report this review (#175539)
Posted Friday, June 27, 2008 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars 'Angl' - Ihsahn (8/10)

Once the front man of Emperor, guitarist and vocalist Ihsahn has come a long way from the primal times of early black metal. Now a respected individual in both the black and progressive metal circles, he is certainly one to impress with this; his second release. While 'Angl' can feel a bit pressured at times, a good performance and great songwriting takes Ihsahn's blackened roots and projects it to a whole new level of creative spirit.

One of the first things that the typical metal fan will notice with this album is appearance of Opeth vocalist Mikael Akerfeldt on the third track; entitled 'Unhealer.' As one of my personal favourite vocalists, Akerfeldt does a great job of using a warm, clean voice to counterpoint Ihsahn's screams. While I wasn't a fan of Emperor before getting 'Angl' (I am now,) hearing that Akerfeldt was on this album was a great way to convince me to buy the album, and the performance works out to be much more than just a sales pitch.

The songwriting is kept under pretty average song lengths and structures, although there are instances- such as in the song Elevator- where the music trails into something soft and different. There are amazing riffs aplenty here, which makes the fact that there isn't a whole lot of technical experimentation work with the album instead of against it. That said, this is not the most ground-breaking piece of metal in the world. Instead, it takes existing black metal conventions, and transforms it into something fresh and layered. While the majority of the vocals are 'extreme' in nature, it's a nice change for him to go clean for a bit, which adds another dimension of melody.

Ihsahn has done something here that is just short of being a masterpiece. Had it been for a little more detail to album flow and continuity and one or two more highlight tracks (there are already plenty to mention) 'Angl' would have surely become a landmark in the history of metal. While the mark might have been hit here, I have no doubt that in the future, Ihsahn has the potential not only to hit, but absolutely demolish the barriers of what black metal can do. A great, rocking progressive metal album.

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Send comments to Conor Fynes (BETA) | Report this review (#277922)
Posted Wednesday, April 14, 2010 | Review Permalink

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