Release Date: Jun 19, 2012
Record label: Candlelight
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Heavy Metal
The title of Ihsahn's fourth post-Emperor solo album, Eremita, derives from the Latin word for "hermit," but there's nothing here suggesting a musical recluse, shut off from the world at large, exciting collaborative opportunities, or new avenues of expression beyond his well-established black metal legacy. This open-minded vision was already quite evident on prior Ihsahn solo albums, of course, but on Eremita it arguably flowers more confidently than ever before, even when it comes to more black metal-infused numbers such as "Arrival" (where vocals vary from familiarly blistering rasps to operatic vibratos), "The Paranoid" (which progresses from blastbeaten hell to quasi-industrial riffing), and "Something Out There" (the most Emperor-like hellacious symphony on hand here). Take "Introspection," for instance, which builds around a melancholy lick and murmured vocals that would appeal to ‘90s shoegazers; or "Departure," which flirts with bossa nova amid a generalized instrumental freakout; or dreamy guitar symphony "The Eagle and the Snake," which beautifully showcases Ihsahn's orchestrating skills for the instrument while an infectiously pesky saxophone (also heard on the deeply atmospheric "Catharsis" and elsewhere) flits alongside, alternately crooning, skronking, and carrying the song into Krautrock land.
Ihsahn's goal likely isn't laughter: In press photos, the Emperor co-founder and vocalist looks frighteningly focused, his glare, posture, and poses simultaneously suggesting a high LaVey disciple, a merciless tyrant, and, rightly, the famous singer of an infamous band. And on Eremita, his latest album under his longtime stage name, Ihsahn opens with "Arrival", ends with "Departure", and makes requisite narrative-arc stops at "Introspection", "Grief", and "Catharsis". As with most of Ihsahn's work, there's an appreciable influence of classical music at the core, so that the record moves more like a feature-length presentation than a string of unconnected assaults.
Review Summary: Soundscapes collide and instruments wail as Ihsahn shows what he is capable of, and what is lingering in the shadowsPerhaps more so than any other artist in his genre, ex-Emperor mastermind Ihsahn has crafted a solo career outside of his main act that is actually worth listening to. Granted, he has experienced his fair share of hiccups such as his sophomore effort angL which focused far too much on the negative aspects of Ihsahn’s musical talents and not enough on his seemingly unending vision, but for the most part his venture into his own musical personality has been a great success. His music is firmly entrenched in the realm of progressive black metal, and progressive it is.
Eremita is the fourth recording that Ihsahn has produced as a solo artist since his departure from Norwegian black metal lords Emperor. Emperor dissolved officially in 2001, though they reunited briefly in both 2006 and 2007 for festival date. Ihsahn's first solo record, The Adversary, was also released in 2006, and now this solo project is the vocalist and multi-instrumentalist's primary artistic focus.