The Norwegian Metal musician legend that is the brilliant, Ihsahn, has once again outdone himself with his latest and most diverse solo record. Arktis (Candlelight Records), Ihshan's 6th solo opus, is a vigorous 10 song release that features guest appearances from Einar Solberg (Leprous), Matt Heafy (Trivium), Jorgen Munkeby (Shining) and Tobias Ornes Andersen (Shining, ex-Leprous).
Ihsahn has been nothing if not creative and fearless in his endless musical exploration, be it with Black Metal legends, Emperor or with his own tireless solo work. Metal, Jazz, avant-garde, electronic are just a few labels that you could try to bestow upon his nonconformist and unrelenting musical ventures. And with that comes the potent record that is Arktis. Each track is its own little play and quite different from the next. CD opener, "Disassembled" opens with a classic Ihsahn twisting and twirling heavy riff that is accompanied with his famous rasp of gritty vocals that leads to a haunting chorus that is all packaged together with the technical brilliance that you would expect from Ihsahn. Arktis is off to an excellent start! "Mass Darkness" is up next (featuring Trivium's Matt Heafy) and this continues the dark atmospheric Metal temperature. "My Heart Is Of The North" reminds me of something that the great band, Ghost, would be proud to call their own. Eerie, ominous, compelling and awesome is what this track is.
What makes Arktis such an interesting listen is the diversity of the album as a whole. Ihsahn once again shows no fear in delving into vastly different textures, all the while sounding very much like himself. The electronic pulse paired with gritty whispered vocals on "South Winds" are genius, while the 80's Metal guitar hero riff and tone on "Until I Too Dissolve" is so stellar and extremely unexpected. There seems to be nothing that this guy can't do AND do well.
Few artists in modern heavy music have created such an extraordinary and unique body of work as Ihsahn. Having refined and redefined black metal with the now legendary Emperor, Ihsahn is Norway's foremost musical extremist. He continues to push his musical boundaries and with Arktis he delivers a bold and mind blowing record that finds each song different from the next, while still maintaining that Ihsahn. From extreme Metal exploration to organic Heavy Rock to more modern expressions, Ihsahn does not disappoint while he takes you on a Nordic ride throughout his many explorations of himself.
Arktis finds Ihsahn reaching to the stratosphere into recesses of his creativity that have yet to be tapped. The track "Crooked Red Line", with it's brooding Opeth-like quality, is accompanied by some elegant and spacious Saxophone lines and is a positive example of the limitlessness that this album has in spades. You will find yourself listening to this record over and over, I know that I have!
- Mass Darkness
- My Heart Is Of The North
- South Winds
- In The Vaults
- Until I Too Dissolve
- Crooked Red Line
- Celestial Voice
- Til Tor Ulven (Limited Edition Bonus Track)*
Added: May 24th 2016
Reviewer: Butch Jones
Related Link: Artist Facebook Page
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