This might not be blackest of the month's releases, but there is none more fitting or deserving to b here than my friend Ihsahn, who brings us a new ep that finds him returning to a more metallic place that is not far removed from his band Emperor. This is done with little nostalgia and keeps things in a progressive King Crimson like slant with horns providing jazzy accents. The guitar playing is very thoughtful and balances out the chugs. I will go ahead and say the only moment close to a misstep for me is his choice of covering the Lenny Kravtiz song " Rock N Roll is Dead" which he does give a more King Crimson like touch to . It's just not a song that I feel plays to his strengths. I would even say his cover of Iron Maiden's "Wrath Child" is an odd straightforward one for him, since I know his favorite Maiden album is actually "Seventh Son" . But he got that one and worked his way back.If memory serves me. If you read this blog then you know just because I am friends with someone it doesn't mean I am cutting them any slack.
What is most metal about this album is the return to his harsher snarl. He has the best voice in black metal so it's cool hearing it put to use again rather than the more Opeth like trade off he has done on his solo stuff in the past. "Nord" straddle the line between prog and metal, with the vocals giving it the tipping point. The arrangements are amazing. He is a brilliant composers, this we know going back to Emperor. Lyrically it's an ode to his homeland. The solo this song is off the charts and he is one of the most under rated guitarists in metal. The title track finds him using some exotic scales that draw from Scandinavian folk music and employing more traditional instrumentation along with the rock set up. It is the album's most melodic moment so far even with the angular metter going on. I am glad to hear him singing in Norse again as well, which he does until the two cover songs. Since it's my native tongue I am always going to prefer this , I thik heavy music sounds better in it, but I am bias. I used to translate it more when I wrote here, ut it got to be as annoying as when an American says to me "say something in Norwegian" to which I ma prone to reply, "Why don't you speak English properly first for me?"
The Kravitz cover grows on me. It is however not as a good as the Maiden one because , let's face Lenny is not as good of a song writer as Iron Maiden in the first place. The Maiden is more uptempo and the horns give accents that are a little weird. His vocals fall between snarling and singing. I would prefer to hear him hit some of the notes a little more straight on. The chorus could have been growl and verse sung in place, but it is what is is. I am going to be picky when it comes to Maiden. I will give this a 9.5 , so only rounded down a point for Kravitz. It's a great reminder of one of the fore fathers of black metal.
This comes out the 14th on Candlelight Records.