Having had a successful career with black metal outfit Emperor, nowadays Vegard Sverre Tveitan also puts plenty of focus into his solo career under the guise of Ihsahn.
Now embarking on a double EP release, we witness his attempt to stay on the throne of black metal in the first instalment, ‘Telemark’.
Commencing with ominous build ups of guitars wailing into a forefront of dissonant off-kilter riffs, ‘Stridig’ is a powerful introduction to Ihsahn‘s style of death metal. Croaking like a black metal deity in his native Norwegian tongue, it doesn’t detract from a varied background of jazz synths and thundering drums that showcase his talent as a multi-instrumentalist.
Entering groove metal realms, ‘Nord’ starts off at a slower pace, but progressively ups the ante with combinations of brass backgrounds and wandering riffs that add a great mystical element. Including a classically styled solo and visceral utterances from Ihsahn, it explores the lighter side of metal without resorting to any traditional additives like breakdowns, slams, or epic choruses (not that it needs any), and instead reads like a narrative with a marked beginning, middle, and end.
Taking the format into progressive realms, the titular track is nothing short of a masterpiece, ebbing and flowing with gradual interchanges of menacing and calming riffs that keep us ready for the next morsel to be devoured. It’s quickly dispatched in a furore of black speed metal and vicious lyrics that are joined by intermittent brass synths and technical riffs which culminate in a tremendous wall of sound that can’t be ignored.