Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Ihsahn: "Amr"

The ex Emperor master mind's last few album's drifted further into progressive rock. The opening track of his new album is much more metal, closer to even black meta; when the drums come in. Synths are more to the forefront. Not just any synths , but very retro synths that sound like they are from an 80s horror movie. The metallic momentum doesn't let on the second song  even though it includes clean vocals. The choked croak almost picks up where his first solo album left off. More of the progressive elements begin to return this as well. The title track digs deeper into the more melodic slant the second song hinted at The clean vocals on the verses remind me a little of Elfman's Jack Skellington tone. Like many other progressive vocal approaches the melody is more relaxed and more focused on the grandiose than hooking you in.

"One Less Enemy" finds itself locked in more of a groove before the wretched vocals come in an the music fall into a more staccato pattern behind it. It rides the tension with a dark chug that reminds me a little of King Diamonds heavier solo moments. The haunting melodic throb of "Where You Are Lost an I Belong". The vocals build while the music lays back and gives them room to breathe. "In Rites of Passage" picks up the pace in a more traditional metal manner before going off into some weird electronic passage, while the vocals keep the song's trajectory. On "Marble Soul" things start heading in a more upbeat prog direction with the majestic melodies replacing feelings of melancholy. There is a lot going on with "Marble Soul" it is almost like Pain of Salvation in that regard. The 80s synths lead into " Twin Black Angels. It has a suitable palm muted tension with hushed vocals until it gets to the chorus. The chorus is a little too happy for. Almost to the Dream Theater level of happiness, though less Journey vocally. On the second listen to grew on me a little more.

The album closes with the much heavier black thrashing of "Wake".  This starts as one of the album's heaviest moments, though when the clean vocals come in at the chorus the mood brightens for better or for worse. As the song progresses it gets more progressive and these elements make the mood more grand than grim which might not be where I want it to go. He has certainly band albums that were more progressive. I think the inclusion of 80s synths is a nice touch to make this album stand apart. I'll give this a 9, while it is not his best work, its a shade better than what most other artists in progressive metal are doing, though the progressive side is what breaks up the dark aggression that we came to know and love him by. The bar is set pretty high and my threshold for darkness is at the level of soul sucking so if you like darker progressive metal it might be your favorite album so far this year, I a step away from being vampiric in my lust for darkness that will never be quenched by the metal of mere mortals, so take that into consideration. This comes out May 4th on Candlelight Records.

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