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Album Review

Former Emperor frontman Ihsahn's third solo album is closer to mainstream rock than its two predecessors, but is also a totally unique statement — and a brilliant one. Opening track "The Barren Lands" features progressive rock riffing, an almost art-funk rhythm, and guitar solos worthy of Living Colour. Faster tracks like "A Grave Inversed" are impeccably produced, abandoning black metal's ultra-trebly screech for an intricate thrash reminiscent of Rigor Mortis' Freaks — except for the honking, almost free jazz saxophone (!). The ten-minute "Undercurrent" heads into jazz fusion territory, with liquid, almost fretless-sounding bass underneath delicate, repeating guitar figures and drums that fall somewhere between Tool and Opeth's quieter moments. But it gets heavy, whipping into another furious yet utterly controlled art-thrash hurricane. It's not the only ten-minute track on the album, either; After ends with "On the Shores," which is almost Yakuza-esque in the way its guitars roar in aggressive yet majestic fashion while the saxophone skronks and squeals up front. This is a seriously mind-warping manifesto from a guy who helped create symphonic black metal with Emperor; he's now moved into the progressive, post-black metal territory occupied by artists like Nachtmystium and particularly Enslaved.


Born: 10 October 1975 in Norway

Genre: Metal

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

One of the leading figures (arguably the leading figure, at least from a musical perspective) in the history of Norwegian black metal, Ihsahn -- born Vegard Sverre Tveitan, in Notodden, Norway, in 1975 -- is best known as the singer, guitarist, and lead composer of the legendary band Emperor. That band, which would go on to earn Ihsahn and its members the highest of honors in the metal community, was born out of the demise of the group formation of an earlier project entitled Thou Shalt Suffer. That...
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After, Ihsahn
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