Review: Ihsahn – Arktis.

SMASH DAT LIKE BUTTON IF U UP

I’m going to resist going full fanboy, giving this a 5-star review, and telling you to buy it. Instead, let us attempt a somewhat objective review of Ihsahn‘s Artkis. Anyone familiar with the Emperor frontman’s most recent work wont be surprised with the album. What is remarkable about Arktis. is the execution of the age-old Ihsahn recipe: one part Das Seelenbrechen; one part Eremita; just a sprinkling of Prometheus-era Emperor. The result is the perfectly seared rib-eye of Ihsahn’s later career.

Releases in the Spring. Released April 08, 2016 via Candlelight, Arktis. marks the sixth full-length album from Ihsahn. While I wouldn’t call it Ihsahn’s solo magnum opus (a title forever-and-always given to 2008’s After), the album has fulfilled all my personal expectations. Eleven tracks of carefully articulated prog metal, Arktis.
incorporates about every genre we’ve come to expect. There are a handful of tracks, like the pre-released “My Heart is of the North,” that are standard fare proggy black metal, with sing-songy choruses. Just as common are the electronica and synth-ridden numbers, with spastic changes in tempo and tone. Even smooth and soulful makes its way into Ihsahn’s crooning voice, which has taken on an even more panoramic variety.

Arktis. also features a new curveball or two, the first of which is “Until I Too Dissolve.” This track is something I can only describe as very close to power metal: Ihsahn even gives us a moment of falsetto, and that main opening riff could’ve been written by Van Halen. It is a straight-up banger. The odd pitches keep coming throughout the album, like the song “South Winds,” which is a bit too goth, and other moments that border on what I disdainfully call “circus music.” Those diversions are why I cannot give this album a full five stars. But for every moment where Arktis. manages go astray, there are hundreds where it excels.

Ihsahn has also brought in a handful of guest appearances for Arktis., all of which complement the grander picture. “Celestial Violence,” the second-to-last track and album standout, features vocals from his ex-backing band Leprous‘ Einar Solberg. It also features Trivium‘s Matt Heafy on “Mass Darkness,” and Shining‘s [NOR] Jørgen Munkeby augments “Crooked Red Line” for a beautiful track reminiscent of Ihsahn’s After-era material.

I feel like my opinion of the album is quite clear, and I often find it hard to not cut Ihsahn a break when there’s a need for it. So, now that the serious stuff is out of the way, I have developed a simple flowchart for anyone unsure of where they will fall in their enjoyment of Arktis.:

You know who you are.

You know who you are.


 

You knew it was going to happen

You knew it was going to happen, 4.5 out of 5 Flaming Toilets!

You can buy Ihsahn’s Arktis., out now on Candlelight Records (April 08, 2016).
You can preview the track “Mass Darkness” feat Matt Heafy via Decibel here
Ihsahn.com | Candlelight Records USA | Ihsahn @ Metal-Archives
(images VIA, VIA)

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Published on: April 11, 2016

Filled Under: Reviews

Views: 1340

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  • Dubs

    Blackbeard, two things: (1) Dr. Allovertheplace finds himself in camp 2, but I do think this is the strongest album he’s done in a while and has more strengths then weaknesses. (2) I made the exact same VH comparison. That song rules.

    • Ol Dirty Blastbeard

      that song is probably the biggest jam on the album.

      i knew where you were gonna fall in regards to the album 😉

      • Dubs

        This was an enjoyable review. Concise.

        • Ol Dirty Blastbeard

          thnx, i was aiming for that. short and sweet. almost everyone in our purview has a defined opinion on Ihsahn already, i didnt have any hopes for swaying anyone

      • I played it for my buddy (a fellow Ihsahn fan) this weekend, and the phrase he used to describe the song was “panty dropper.”

        • Ol Dirty Blastbeard

          perfect

  • Spear
    • Ol Dirty Blastbeard

      i cant remember if this was the circus music offender or not

      • Spear

        Pressure or Celestial Violence?

        • Ol Dirty Blastbeard

          not Celestial Violence, that song is dope. maybe im thinking of “Frail”

          • Sir Tapir The Based

            Frail is one of the best songs on the album, dawg.

          • Ol Dirty Blastbeard

            im AFK, and at work, so i cant look for which part i was thinking of. its not the whole song, like South Winds

          • Sir Tapir The Based

            I didn’t diggitydoo South Winds at first, but it has definitely grown on me.

          • Ol Dirty Blastbeard

            the parts where it breaks from the electronic part are fine, but those lyrics and the synth . . . i hope it comes around for me

  • Spear

    Good review, Brobeard. I’ve liked what I’ve heard so far, probably going to get this one.

  • Guacamole Jim

    Nice fedora, asshole. #CantStumpTheTrump

    • Guacamole Jim

      But in all seriousness, great review, and Ihsahn seems to get better and better with each release.

      • Ol Dirty Blastbeard

        this second part i dont actually agree with

  • Joaquin Stick

    Is Einar Solberg literally doing guest vocals on everything? I saw his name come up a few days ago, forgot where, now this and Haken? I guess I can’t be mad about it.

    • Joaquin Stick

      It may have been the Toilet Tuesday write-up of this album. My bad.

      • Dubs

        Stare into the bowl long enough and all realities start to blend together in the swirling poo water

  • Paddlin’ Rites ov Beargod

    Ihsahn’s best in quite a time.

    • Ol Dirty Blastbeard

      better than Das Seelenbrechen and Eremita, without a doubt

  • COAL ROLL

    Pure Holocaust was one of my favorite albums……I’ll def have to check this out.

    • Ol Dirty Blastbeard

      lolol

    • 🙁

    • CyberneticOrganism

      Is King Ov Hell still in his solo band or is he out?

      • COAL ROLL

        I think he’s Spinal Tap

        • CyberneticOrganism

          I seriously want to interview King Ov Hell, but I’m worried he’ll be a little upset at the name similarities.

          • He would probs sue us.

          • CyberneticOrganism

            I’ll have to stick with trying to interview Gaahl

      • Lisa Ling: Devourer Of Souls

        He’s back in Bathory now.

  • Giant sprawling big word reviews are fun, but the concise and to the point review without all the hyperbole is excellent as well. Great write up!

    • Ol Dirty Blastbeard

      thnx RT

    • Joaquin Stick

      Words are for assholes! *Hides behind English degree*

      • Dubs

        Are you, like me, cursed with the constant need to actually edit your technical papers down to meet a required length?

        • Joaquin Stick

          Nah, I am in the “less is more” camp actually. I am terrible at fluff and do anything I can to say as much as possible with each sentence. Writing is torture for me lol.

          • Dubs

            Lol. I am completely in agreement regarding the need for concise, direct sentences. It’s just that all of my drafts are always after word count, so then I have to spend agonizing days paring everything down into its best possible form.

          • Joaquin Stick

            I don’t think I have ever been given a max word count actually. But I also couldn’t stand academia for as long as long as you did, and no one really cares about undergrad work.

          • Dubs

            A lot of journals don’t have hard word limits, but you definitely need to check to see if yours is within a common range for them to publish.

        • Count_Breznak

          Just don’t ever send anything to MALTESAS, they produce invites and call for papers faster than you can unsubscribe.

      • Lisa Ling: Devourer Of Souls

        Words are very unnecessary, they can only do haaaaaaaaaaaaarm.

    • Edward/Breegrodamus™

      This is a superb review.

      • Ol Dirty Blastbeard

        ED!

        • Edward/Breegrodamus™

          Blackbeard!

  • Owlswald

    The period in the album title lead me to believe the review was chock full of inadvertent punctuation but the album itself is great.

  • hieronymus bossk

    You can get with Arktis, or you can get with Arkthat.

  • CyberneticOrganism

    ‘Tis a fyne album, Brother Ihsahn, but ’tis no barn.

    • hieronymus bossk

      I though the original quote was “tis a fine barn, but sure tis no pool”?

      • CyberneticOrganism

        Yes, but you see I modified the original quote’s language for humorous context.

        • hieronymus bossk

          I know, but shouldn’t it have been “but sure tis no pool” instead of “tis no barn” at the end?

  • Sir Tapir The Based

    It is a good.

    • Ol Dirty Blastbeard

      scratch dat prog itch

  • ME GORAK KING OV CAVEMEN!!!

    SOUTH WINDS SOUND LIKE EDM!!!!!!! BUT ARKTIS IS A GOOD!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Ol Dirty Blastbeard

      correct

      • Ol Dirty Blastbeard

        let me clarify, if the article wasnt clear enough, that song alone is probably why i didnt 5 star this

        • ME GORAK KING OV CAVEMEN!!!

          ARKTIS GORAK FAVORITE SINCE AFTER!!!!!! THAT ONE SKIPPABLE THOUGH!!!!!!!!!

          • Ol Dirty Blastbeard

            another 100% objectively correct statement

  • he’s so dreamy

    • Ol Dirty Blastbeard

      he and i actually look quite a bit alike, i think, if he could grow a nicer beard

      • Sir Tapir The Based

        He’s way hotter than you tho.

        • Ol Dirty Blastbeard

          well, i know how much you love Norwegians, but i dont think you have much of a chance with him
          youll have to settle for me bb

  • Excellent review! No wasted space and it reinforces all my pro-Ihsahn biases.

  • Scrimm

    “Riff could have been written by Van Halen” – there’s my cue
    https://media.giphy.com/media/SbmB6uOeZLCX6/giphy.gif

  • frozengoatsheadupanunsarse

    This review is goods and album is goods too. Goods jobs.

  • Lisa Ling: Devourer Of Souls

    Great write up and definitely checking this out (as soon as the new Moonsorrow loosens it’s unyielding grip on my player), despite that god fucking buttz awful artwork.

    Skiing <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

    • Dubs

      The picture is from Dyatlov Pass Incident.

      • Lisa Ling: Devourer Of Souls

        The what? All I’m seeing is a guy skiing in the middle of nowhere.

      • I assumed it was from the Shackleton expedition. Must investigate further.

        • Lisa Ling: Devourer Of Souls

          I assumed it was some guy ski-walking at a Colorado ski resort.

          • It doesn’t reek strongly enough of yuppie entitlement to be from a Colorado ski resort. At least not from most of them.

        • Dubs

          You also could be right! These crazy old ice adventures produced some quality photography.

      • frozengoatsheadupanunsarse

        Even though I’m sure the obvious took place there, I still choose to believe monsters were afoot.

    • Ol Dirty Blastbeard

      i actually like the artwork

  • Waynecro

    This is an awesome review, man. Thanks oodles! I really like this album. I’ve been playing it mostly nonstop for the last few days.

    • Ol Dirty Blastbeard

      sadly the vinyl will not be available until May 13. Mines already on preorder, though everything sounds shitty to me not on my new turntable setup

      • Waynecro

        I went digital as usual. I don’t have a turntable setup or a real sound system. I just keep Zune docks in several rooms in the house and plug my Zune in wherever I’m going to be for a while.

        • Ol Dirty Blastbeard

          i used to be the same way, i actually HATE CDs (thus the moniker), but vinyl opened up my ears man. and i like to keep that collection sexy. my digital collection is ENORMOUS (> 3 TB of metal alone) but the sound quality of my setup compared to digital is astounding

          • Waynecro

            I have a few records, and they probably sound killer (they sure look awesome). Perhaps one of these days I’ll buy a turntable setup. For now, though, I’m more interested in blasting my tunes without expanding the amount of stuff I have to own and store.

          • Ol Dirty Blastbeard

            i understand completely. my place is full of my old lady and i’s collections. i used to be fairly proud of my book collection but my vinyl and record players have surpassed that. not to say we’re hoarders because im actually the opposite.

        • Zune >>>>>>>>>>>>>>

          • Waynecro

            YES!!!

  • 🙁

    • Edward/Breegrodamus™

      ??

      • Oops.
        Fixed it.

        • Ol Dirty Blastbeard

          i had thot we were fairly in line taste wise

          • I actually don’t like Ishan very much but it was a good read nonetheless.

          • Ol Dirty Blastbeard

            -1 sex point

          • Fine, I’m putting it back the way it was.

          • Ol Dirty Blastbeard

            i was actually a little upset there weren’t any dissenters

          • I could heap a whole whoppin’ load o’ dissent, but I didn’t want to do that to you.

            (I’m pretending I am capable of exercising restraint.)

          • Ol Dirty Blastbeard

            man, my unnatural bestial love of ihsahn could survive any affront, even one from you.

            i mean, i at least expected a gif from tyreenis.

          • Mmmm…bestial love…is there any other kind???

          • Ol Dirty Blastbeard

            i dont even remember the last time i showered bro

  • Boss theSpeedMetalBastard Ross

    Nice write up ODB, checking some of the tracks out now and I’m enjoying it.

  • Lisa Ling: Devourer Of Souls

    Some of the best entertainment news in months: JB Smoove, who played Leon on CYE, is pushing Larry David for one more season of Curb Your Enthusiasm. (and no, he’s definitely not desperate for work). Fingers crossed!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8GzAmLozd6Y

  • Hail BroBeard! Now I’m more stoked to check this release. Good job, Brobeard, Good job, Ihsahn!