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Ihsahn
Das Seelenbrechen
October 2013
Released: 2013, Candlelight Records
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson

Ever-unpredictable ex-Emperor frontman Vegard Sverre Tveitan, aka Ihsahn, continues his solo career with yet another experimental outing bound to confound those who long for a return to the black metal histrionics of old and challenge those who perhaps thought he’d found his comfort zone with the black/prog pomp of 2012’s Eremita and 2010's After, which brought a little more aggression back into the equation each time.



Das Seelenbrechen - which translates as “the soul breaking” or something to that affect - comes from an entirely different angle that is steeped more in jazz, ambient and industrial music. It has a very free-form, avant-garde feel that speaks to the improvisational nature of the compositions Ihsahn promised in announcing the album at the end of August – if John Zorn played guitar and sang is might sound something like this.



Even the tracks that are more metallic in nature, like the opener “Hilber,” “NaCl” or the riffy “Tacit,” take decidedly left-hand turns into mind-warp jams with Leprous drummer Tobias Ørnes Andersen's skittish beats leading the way and Ihsahn adding layers of piano, synthesizers or guitar effects. As he has on Ihsahn's last couple albums, Shining frontman Jørgen Munkeby punctuates things on occasion with his spastic saxophone wails.



“Tacit2” is an industrial-strength clamor of drums and noise and is the album's most calamitous track. The near complete lack of structure on “Tacit2,” and a number of the chaotic asides, makes it seem like Ihsahn and Andersen are making it up on the spot. But since Leprous serve as Ihsahn's backing band when he plays live, the two have an obvious musical rapport and even when things seem somewhat thrown together here they don't feel like pointless exercises or indulgent bullshit.



On the flipside, “Pulse” takes bare bones vocals and keyboards and runs with them for the entire song, offering an almost “loungey” feel that is surprisingly relaxing, while the similar “Rec” throws a relatively brief fit at the end. The sparse, eerie “M” echoes Pink Floyd with its soaring guitar solo, shimmering riffs and chorale backing vocals, while the airy “Sub Alter” is downright new-agey and “See” sounds like something off the Twin Peaks soundtrack with it shuffling pace, whispered vocals and instrumental hum.



“Regen” is perhaps the album's most “standard” song, a rousing bit of symphonic rock that begins with gentle vocals and piano and builds ever-so-slowly before concluding in a rousing wash of guitar and orchestration. It's as epic a power ballad, of sorts, that Ihsahn's ever done, but it’s one of the rare genuinely accessible moments here.



Das Seelenbrechen is certainly Ihsahn's most daring and difficult solo release. It’s certainly not for everyone, but if you liked the more unconventional side of his earlier work, then this will be right up your alley. If not, well, there’s always the Emperor reunion shows next summer, if you can get there.
Track Listing

1. Hilber
2. Regen
3. NaCl
4. Pulse
5. Tacit 2
6. Tacit
7. Rec
8. M
9. Sub Alter
10. See

Lineup

Vegard Sverre “Ihsahn” Tveitan - vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards
Tobias Ørnes Andersen - drums

Other reviews

» Angl
by The Crimson King

» After
by Robert Williams

» After
by Hanntu

» Das Seelenbrechen
by Peter Atkinson

» Das Seelenbrechen
by Metal-Rules.com UK Team


Next review: » Ihsahn - Das Seelenbrechen
Previous review: » Ihsahn - Angl

Ihsahn
Das Seelenbrechen
November 2013
Released: 2013, Candlelight Records
Rating: 5.0/5
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team

On the 21st of October 2013, Ihsahn, the mastermind behind Norwegian black metal dark lords Emperor, released his fifth solo album Das Seelenbrechen taking his musical approach to a whole new level. Recorded at his own studio in Norway in collaboration with drummer Tobias Ørnes Andersen (also of prog crew Leprous) Ihsahn presents Das Seelenbrechen as an album that is “a sidestep in his musical career before continuing his solo work with a full-on metal album again."



Das Seelenbrechen (translated from German as The Soul Crushing) contains 10 songs of various length and is an album that guarantees a technically saturated musical experience to shake the ground with its heaviness and take the listener on a hypnotizing journey where chaos meets perfection.



“Hiber” kicks off the album by introducing sharp and heavy riffs and technically complex arrangement. It makes a strong and pounding opener that perfectly reflects Ihsahn’s earlier work of art. By mixing shrieking vocals and heavy rhythm with classical and instrumental soundtrack-like parts, Ihshan makes even the most obscure musical style combinations work.



The second song on the album “Regen” opens with lyrical piano intro and melodic vocals showing no sign of any black metal influence. However, 2 minutes into the song Ihsahn amplifies it by bringing back heavy drumming and soaring vocals alongside choir and orchestra elements making it a one of the most atmospheric highlights of Das Seelenbrechen .



Aside technical mastery and experimental approach, Das Seelenbrechen presents spectacular guitar work, especially on songs, like “Regen” and “M,” which particularly stands out as a track starting off with dimmed melody and whispering vocals and gradually turning into an explosion of a song with distinct Pink Floyd vibe and a guitar solo worthy of David Gilmour.



Other songs to highlight the album are “NaCi” and “Pulse,” which both come across as the most progressive, yet catchiest songs with complex and striking melodies, great usage of sound effects and abstract structures.



Das Seelenbrechen is all about extraordinary approach to composition and blending different musical styles. With this album Ihsahn challenges not only his composing abilities, but also his ever so loyal fanbase, as on this particular record he allows himself to shamelessly experiment with electronic music by mixing it with orchestrations and instrumental improvisations. After listening to Das Seelenbrechen multiple times, it is clear that on this record Ihsahn is completely relying on his musical imagination and letting his talent take him to different heights of his career as an artist.



Songs like “Tacit 2” and “Tacit” add significant amount of chaos and dissonance to Das Seelenbrechen also adding avant garde touch to its overall sound, which is full of contrasts and holds a lot of darkness.



It’s absolutely mind-blowing to hear just how much attention Ihsahn pays to detail on each end every song off Das Seelenbrechen. To fully hear and explore the multiple musical layers of each track, Das Seelenbrechen should not be just heard, but studied, as it reveals more and more detail every time you listen to it.



Das Seelenbrechen is not your traditional Ihsahn’s album, as this time he’s taking heaviness in music to a different level that is not necessarily fuelled with aggression or amplified by loud guitars and stomping rhythms. His mastery in composing ‘heavy’ music goes beyond that, as puts the main focus on atmosphere. “See,” which is the closing track of the album is a great example of just that.



Das Seelenbrechen possibly marks some of the most challenging material Ishahn has ever recorded. With this one, he’s drifted away from most of his usual Black Metal influences and moved towards progressive improvisation, reflecting emotions and capturing a certain atmosphere.



Review by Anna Dumpe
Track Listing

01 Hiber
02 Regen
03 NaCl
04 Pulse
05 Tacit 2
06 Tacit
07 Rec
08 M
09 Sub Ater
10 See

Lineup

Ihsahn - Vocals, Guitars, Bass, Keyboards
Tobias Ørnes Andersen (Leprous) - Drums

Other reviews

» Angl
by The Crimson King

» After
by Robert Williams

» After
by Hanntu

» Das Seelenbrechen
by Peter Atkinson

» Das Seelenbrechen
by Metal-Rules.com UK Team


Next review: » IIIrd Sovereign - Destined to Suffer
Previous review: » Ihsahn - Angl





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