IHSAHN – The Adversary

After setting the bar very high with PECCATUM‘s brilliant Lost in Reverie, Ihsahn provides his next release in the form of his first solo album. This is what many EMPEROR fans have been craving for. The Adversary is as close to EMPEROR as you can get without it being EMPEROR. Obviously, you’ve got Ihsahn on vocals/guitars/synth/bass but you also have the decadence, the prominent classical influence, that mind blowing technical prowess and ambitious song structures that EMPEROR became known for. As a starting point, The Adversary is built on the foundation laid by EMPEROR and PECCATUM‘s final albums. However, Ihsahn takes things in more progressive directions, in not only the sound but in mentality. “Called by the Fire” revives the ghost of early MERCYFUL FATE with its intro riff, features the album’s catchiest chorus, excellent string arrangements, and has some sweet, sweet guitar melodies. The following song, “Citizen,” sounds like the next logical step from PECCATUM in terms of its progressive blazing riffs. “Homecoming” starts off with twisting DREAM THEATER-like guitar runs and features ULVER’s Garm on lead vocals. The lonely 4am urban atmospheres that are created could have been best served without all the aforementioned guitar flash. The epic album closer, “The Pain is Still Mine,” is the crowning achievement on The Adversary. Decadent, theatrical, and classical influences abound, the song is truly a monster. The album’s production features a thinner guitar and drum sound than what is the norm within the genre. The aura of invincibility that Ihsahn (as well as the other members of EMPEROR) are thought to possess will undoubtedly have fans calling the album infallible. That may be taking things too far given that there are some weak spots here and there. Overall though, The Adversary is an ambitious work that is a good starting point for many fruitful albums to come from one of metal’s elite. (Candlelight USA Records)

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