September 19, 2012

Ihsahn - Eremita

Review by Natalie Zina Walschots. Originally published here by Exclaim.

Designed by Ritxi Ostariz

Eremita is the fourth recording that Ihsahn has produced as a solo artist since his departure from Norwegian black metal lords Emperor. Emperor dissolved officially in 2001, though they reunited briefly in both 2006 and 2007 for festival date. Ihsahn's first solo record, The Adversary, was also released in 2006, and now this solo project is the vocalist and multi-instrumentalist's primary artistic focus. Ihsahn performs vocals, guitar, bass and keyboard on Eremita, while Jorgen Munkeby's saxophone adds a layer of jazzy complexity to the compositions and Tobias Andersen's drumming provides the engine and forward drive. The record also features an impressive list of guest performances, including the voice of Devin Townsend and the guitar of Jeff Loomis.

Eremita (which means "to live in the desert") is a dense, brooding album, as musically lush as it is atmospherically desolate. The rhythm of the drumming often takes on a dark, scuttling quality, while the guitars and vocals writhe together above, like creatures making their painful way across hot sand. This feeling is epitomized in "The Eagle and the Snake," which incorporates a merciless and explosive heat into the tone. Also like a desert, Eremita has a shadow side, a dark underbelly. Once the sun goes down, it gets startlingly cold and rather than being roasted alive by anger, all manner of creatures emerge to stalk and hunt you. It's easy to imagine the chords of "Catharsis" as ravenous beasts, the notes as dripping teeth. As compositionally complex as Eremita is, it's the hunger of the album ― the elemental and animal simplicity of the tone ― that gives it strength.

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