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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 project was formed in 1991, after Ihsahn and Samoth (Tomas Haugen) met at a music conference as teenagers. Thou Shalt Suffer managed to release a handful of demos before Samoth took leave of the group, and Ihsahn set the idea aside as a solo side project. Eventually, the two kindred spirits would work together again in the aforementioned Emperor, a band whose early lineup included Ihsahn, Samoth, Faust (Bård Eithun), and Mortiis.
With much of the black metal establishment in Norway (these were the days of Euronymous and a pre-murder and nationalist Varg Vikernes) fully behind the work Emperor was doing, the band released the groundbreaking EP Emperor in 1993. Their critically acclaimed full-length debut, In the Nightside Eclipse, was released in 1994, but the band's momentum was stalled by the jailing of Faust and Samoth in the wave of violence that was prevalent in Norwegian black metal at the time. Ihsahn soldiered on, and — on his own (Mortiis was an early defector from the Emperor ranks, choosing to embark on a more theatrical solo project) — composed much of what would be Emperor's follow-up, Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk, released in 1997. During the late '90s, Ihsahn also appeared on a number of different projects outside of Emperor, including Zyklon-B (which was a mélange of members of Emperor and Satyricon) and the Peccatum project (which formed in 1998), an experimental group that was made up of Ihsahn and his wife Ihriel (real name: Heidi Tveitan).
Ihsahn made two full-length appearances in 1999, the debut full-length with Peccatum entitled Strangling from Within, and the next acclaimed Emperor full-length, IX Equilibrium. Ihsahn and Emperor would release two more albums over the next couple of years, 2000's live Emperial Live Ceremony (which also saw a DVD release) and 2001's Prometheus: The Discipline of Fire & Demise. While both would garner Emperor and Ihsahn further acclaim, that was to be the end — somewhat — of Emperor, as the band decided — following the release of Prometheus — to call it a day. Although a compilation of the band's work would surface in 2003, and the band would play a handful of shows in 2006, Ihsahn's attention shifted in focus to Peccatum. The project released album number two, Amor Fati, in 2001, followed by 2004's Lost in Reverie.
In 2002 Ihsahn was the proud recipient of an award by his home city, recognizing him as one of the area's leading musical artists and cultural figures. After the 2005 EP The Moribund People with Peccatum, Ihsahn began work on what would be his solo full-length debut. The album, 2006's The Adversary, featuring a collaboration with Ulver's Kristoffer Rygg and the percussion work of Asgeir Mickelson, was released on his own label, Mnemosyne, as well as seeing international distribution on Candlelight. The album received rave reviews, and was followed up in 2008 with the sophomore solo release AngL, which featured a collaboration with Opeth's Mikael Åkerfeldt.