I don’t know if Ihsahn’s new album qualifies for one of my most anticipated of 2024 because I received the (streaming-only) promo slightly before it came out. It still hit me out of nowhere. I will confess to being a fan, but his solo works haven’t done much for me on the last few records. I’m hoping the new self-titled one will turn that around.

Let’s see how it starts with the first official track after an intro, “The Promethean Spark.” Saying it’s going to sound very little like his most famous band is probably a no-brainer at this point, so I won’t. Wait. Shit… Anyway, what you’re getting now is prog rock with some metal elements occasionally (especially on track 3). This one does have a catchy chorus with some fast parts, but nothing that could be considered heavy, except for the rasps. It sounds exactly like you probably expect.

Later, one of the most vicious tracks is “Twice Born,” which in some sections does seem like Ihsahn is narrating the entrance of a Disney villain. If it weren’t for the harsh vocals and guitars, perhaps it could be. I’m sure the label paid out well for the use of the orchestra, so he may as well use it. It’s appropriately bombastic, heavy, and somehow still quiet. It’s worth pointing out that the dynamics on this album are fantastic.

Ihsahn of course knows how to make catchy songs as well, one of them being my favorite, “Blood Trails to Love.” I think Cannibal Corpse can identify. It starts quiet yet menacing with whispered rasps. His layered vocals when the chorus hits have an impact because of them. It’s once again my favorite, but probably the catchiest on the album.

It does seem as though he had to put those songs with huge choruses back-to-back as the next one, “Hubris and Blue Devils” has one, but it’s a much longer track. The pounding drums seem to be at odds with the orchestral elements at first, but after a few moments, it just makes them hit harder by comparison. As for that huge chorus, its appearance is teased around the 2-minute mark. It is, however, well over a minute before it fully appears. A grower, not a shower. Some can relate. Moving on…

I’ve seen many mentions of this being the most “Ihsahn” of all his albums. With it being self-titled, that makes sense. So, love or hate him, you do know what you’re getting. While that’s a good thing, it’s also a fault because there’s certainly not going to be many surprises. Yes, a lot of it sounds the same.

As I mentioned above, there’s an orchestra, and it does a lot of heavy lifting. While I can remember excellent songs, I also can’t remember the riffs. So, if you’re looking for lots of heavy, headbanging riffs, well you probably should have looked elsewhere before this statement. However, in my view, I feel like it’s the best Ihsahn album in a while, and worthy of your time.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by J Mays
March 4th, 2024


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