Ihsahn – Arktis

I can’t believe it’s been 10 years since Ihsahn’s debut solo album "The Adversary" and here we are with his sixth album "Arktis". "Arktis" sees Ihsahn continue to evolve his sound and it’s another step in the journey he took when he went solo. Where it’s leading to is anyone’s guess that’s why fans lap his solo work up the way they do. I can’t think of any other artist where their catalogue shows such continuation the way Ihsahn’s does, each album just flows into the next.

"Arktis" as stated earlier isn’t a giant leap forward, nor does it need to be. It’s the closest however Ihsahn has come to releasing a typical sounding album which is inevitable 10 years and six albums in it’s not a bad thing and it’s not to say there aren’t any surprises. Like all of Ihsahn’s work this album feels cold but this album doesn’t feel dark. That’s one major change. The albums artwork suits the music perfectly. While black metal usually uses forests and the like on their album covers, the use of the arctic or a snowy landscape is a different contrast but the majesty of the horizon and the danger of the unknown is still present.

For the albums first three tracks you get the familiar sound. You get the mid paced song structures that climb up to a climax. Trivium’s Matt Heafy pop’s in to do some backing vocals on 'Mass Darkness'. For the first three tracks it’s so far, so good, so Ihsahn and then he throws 'South Winds' at you. A weird Make Patton esque number with Ihsahn doing his black metal scream over a looping synth during the verse and sing over a heavy soaring chorus. 'In The Vaults' is a classical sounding metal track with a chorus you’ll be singing in your grave and then thing gets mad with 'Until I Too Dissolve' the track opens with an almost cock rock riff with a stomping drum beat underneath! It’s awesome, it’s still an Ihsahn track through and through but the catchy hooky riff just comes out of nowhere.

As with all of his albums on first listen it’s a bit weird and you wonder what Ihsahn is doing but with repeated listens everything falls into place. Fans will love it as a great addition to the collection but I don’t think this album will convert many new fans. It will be the equivalent to starting Game of Thrones on season 6. Newcomers will be better starting with "The Adversary" and working their way through. For long time fans there is plenty to enjoy.

  1. Disassembled
  2. Mass Darkness
  3. My Heart Is Of The North
  4. South Winds
  5. In The Vaults
  6. Until I Too Dissolve
  7. Pressure
  8. Frail
  9. Crooked Red Line
  10. Celestial Violence