Admittedly, I know nothing about the man behind Ihsahn's latest, Emertia. This sort of thing comes up in the music review game from time to time, where you may be reviewing artists that are totally new to you, risking the ire of long time fans that probably roll their eyes at each ignorant mention of "this band seems more progressive than technical metal". "Duh, they've been in the genre for years, man!" [Apparently, in his native country, he's been nominated for lots of awards, and helped to revitalize the metal genre with his band Emperor - which he started at the age of thirteen] So, please forgive me if I don't realize that Ihsahn is some sort of genius that I've never heard of. Cool?
With that said, I'm coming to an album with no expectations whatsoever here and what I hear is compelling. For the most part, we're dealing with modern metal with a thrashy bent (The Paranoid, 1:22), replete with heavy guitars, screaming vocals, blast beats, ripping solos, etc. But just when you think you've got it figured out, you come to a monkey wrench like the nearly 9 minute The Eagle and the Snake with its jazzy horn section and Devin Townsend-esque vocals, and you're forced to reevaluate - in a good way, mind you. As I mentioned in the beginning, fans of Ihsahn's work may be saying to themselves "Dude, the horn stuff is classic Ihsahn, jeez!", which I can understand. Just know that I like what I'm hearing.
The Bottom Line: I like it when artists can add something to a genre without being so different that it disregards its convention all together. To me, that's real genius. And when it's done this well, ending up with something very listenable like Emertia, fans of that genre can be truly excited knowing that the genre is all the richer for this experimentation and the validation that it belies.
Tracks to Get Band Nerds Turned Metalheads Excited: The Paranoid, The Eagle and the Snake, Catharsis & The Grave
- Genghis feels like he might've apologized too much on this review...