Vera : While Vegard Sverre Tveitan alias Ihsahn still regularly performs with Emperor all over the world, the multi accomplished Norwegian musician has built up a respectable career as solo artist too. In this respect, ‘Àmr’ happens to be his seventh studio album. The successor of the two years ago released ’Arktis’ offers us again rather progressive tinged yet heavy material to fathom. The balance between progressive experiments and raucous black metal is properly amazing and the catchier compositions in the vein of his previous album are also present on ‘Àmr’ in addition to the challenging parts.
As always this album is a true solo effort with Ihsahn doing everything except drums. As usual these were played by Tobias Ørnes Andersen (ex-Leprous) while the mastering was in the hands of Jens Bogren, with any tasteful strings as result. The album kicks off with jittery prog keyboards, next Ihsahn sings the title of ‘Lend Me The Eyes Of The Millennia’ with his familiar raspy raucous voice. An epic outburst with accelerating drums leads towards a soaring melody and calmer instrumental passages. The repetitive riffs of ‘Arcana Imperii’ are cleaved through by rough chants, but suddenly the chorus sounds smooth and clean. There is a strong interaction between harsh and clean vocals, with a wide range of prog related textures and a beautiful, fervent solo of Opeth’s Fredrik Åkesson as surplus. The song ‘Sàmr’ happens to be slower, with inventive bass patterns and muffled vocals. This song is completely sung clean and thoughtful and towards the end it has a sensitive Pink Floyd-ish guitar solo. Guitars are dissonant and stamping in ‘One Less Enemy’ and there is an undercurrent of despair in the harsh vocals. Again thoughtful – yet very beautiful – is ‘Where You Are Lost And I Belong’ with again only clean vocals and a menacing touch in the calm music. This musical journey continues rocking, with jazzy timbre and experimental keyboards in ‘In Rites Of Passages’. The next three songs have an agreeable shifting between harsh and clean vocals (chorus), so that this album includes complex parts, but all in all it is rather accessible. On top of that the guitar solos in the catchy ‘Twin Black Angels’ and ‘Wake’ are really magnificent!
Those who purchase the version with the bonus track will find the poem ‘Alone’ from Edgar Allan Poe as gift: thirteen minutes performance with intense raucous voice on a bed of soaring keyboards and strings. Ihsahn remains an ultimate fascinating artist with huge inventive skills.