Release DetailsLABEL Candlelight
RELEASED ON 5/27/2008
posted on 5/2008 By:
Though arriving with less fanfare and anticipation than the still fresh break up of Emperor release, The Adversary, Ihsahn’s second self monikered album sees a continuation of experimentation with familiar themes.
The Adversary, to me was basically what the next Emperor album would have been had the band stayed together, swarming blackened metal with classical influences and a progressive element that’s simply far too forward thinking to remain under the black metal moniker. So once again, Ihsahn continues that sound, again aided by session drummer Asgeir Mickelson (Spiral Architect, Borknagar, Vintersorg) and now joined by bassist Lars Norberg (Satyricon, Borknagar) and the overall result, while not as instantly gratifying as The Adversary is still an amazing foray into brilliant musicianship and creative songwriting.
As with The Adversary, this project is far more extreme than Peccatum (or recent side project Hardingrock), and while the strains of Emperor are still rife in the guitars, vocals (both clean and rasped) and synth work (just check out opener “Misanthrope” and start of “Malediction”), Ihsahn is still spreading his wings, just not as gregariously as Peccatum. Even with generous amounts of languid atmospherics and acoustics, there are still plenty of jagged and complex metal riffs (“Scarab”) that defy categorization above and beyond sounding “Emperor-ish”. Even then everything is glossed with an aloof elegance that strives for greatness and is deserving of its almost self indulgent, labyrinthine brilliance (“Emancipation”, “Alchemist”, “Elevator”, “Monlithe”- which ends the album in a sudden, anti climactic way) that while initially come across as the enigmatic musings of a genius, eventually settles in as your brain starts to comprehend its eloquent, disjointed magnificence. While all the tracks are perfectly written and executed that take several listens to absorb, of note is “Unhealer” which features Opeth’s Mikeal Akerfeldt in all his bellowing and crooning glory and the elegant "Threnody” which sees Ihsahn perform his own Akerfeldt impersonation to form the album's two indisputable standouts.
I’ll admit, though, angL isn’t hitting me quite as well as The Adversary did, despite Ihsahn seeming more at ease with his post Emperor direction, but I imagine that’s partly due to the expectations that The Adversary had as the Emperor frontman’s first solo album. However, even as the niche release it is, fans of latter Emperor as well metal fans in general should appreciate angL for the simply majestic cacophony of elegant nihilism and dizzying creativity that it is.
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