Label: Blood Music - BLOOD-015R • Format: Vinyl LP, Album, Repress Brown • Country: Finland • Genre: Rock • Style: Prog Rock, Black Metal, Heavy Metal, Avantgarde
Best viewed without Internet Explorer, in x resolution or higher. I wonder what do you think about the phenomenon of Emperor? For many, they were the best and most accomplished black metal band ever! Funny is that these were the times, when Emperor was the most popular and recognized black metal band in the world, but musically they went the wrong direction for me. Hmm, and you know what? It may sound strange, but I liked it. Why strange? Because in many ways Ihsahn project is a continuation of what Vegard Tveitan has been doing in the late career of Emperor and even in Peccatum.
You just cannot look at this project through the perspective of the past works of Tveitan. There are some parts on this album, which sound just too weird for me… But at the same time there are many moments, which give me a goose skin, so brilliant and effective they are. As I already said, this is Heartbreaker - Led Zeppelin - Return To Blueberry Hill unique and unparalleled music.
I definitely like the symphonic, classical aspects of it and obviously I also love all those harsh and aggressive moments, which remind me Emperor… and you can top that with some heavy metal influences, circa King Diamond, with those falsetto vocals here and there… Really, every song is different and each brings something exceptional and Called By The Fire - Ihsahn - The Adversary would need to describe them all in details, to show you what Ihsahn has done here.
It is actually a smart move, to start the first solo album with a song, which sounds like your old band — only the problem is that many maniacs will hope that the whole album will be like that. Yes, it definitely is a good song. It surely is one of the most diverse and most challenging songs, but I quite like the final effect, really, even if it is quite calm and has so many progressive rock influences. It is almost radio friendly, if only they were airing there some more avant-garde, progressive music and not just the meat for the masses.
An album like this will always bring Countrymen - The Sheila Divine - Where Have My Countrymen Gone, extreme emotions and opinions — some will absolutely hate it, especially if they would look at it from the perspective of early Emperor and early Norwegian black metal really and some will love it for noncommercial attitude, bravery in mixing the styles, Called By The Fire - Ihsahn - The Adversarydiversity and uniqueness.
After an illustrious and now-legendary tenure with symphonic black metal pioneers Emperor, former frontman Ihsahn was thirsting for something different. For quite some time now, Emperor had virtually been an Ihsahn solo project in itself, but he wanted to do something other than the black metal that he had become so well-known for. Using his own pseudonym as the title for his new project, the new face of Ihsahn's music is an extreme progressive metal symphony.
Now with a successful solo career established, it is clear that this was a Das Trisagion - Chor Des Päpstlichen Russischen Collegs, Rom* / Johannes-Damascenus-Chor, Essen* - G decision for Ihsahn. Tveitan Ihsahn has branched out from black metal, but there are still clear signs of his heritage within that genre.
Tremolo picking, blastbeats, and his ever-distinctive vocal rasp are in full play here. That is only an aspect of the sound on 'The Adversary', however; the best way to describe what Ihsahn has done here is 'extreme progressive metal', or even 'symphonic metal'.
The first thing that someone is bound to notice here is the technicality of the guitar playing; Ihsahn's tight songwriting is driven by plenty of gorgeous leads, solos, and riffs that would leave most black metal musicians either scratching their heads, or asking for lessons. The only other musician on the record is drummer Asgeir Mickelson, who invites a welcome dose of double-kick into the sound.
Possibly the most surprising aspect of 'The Adversary' however are the symphonic, classical elements. On top of the guitars, he also plays a soft piano, and arranges some authentic-sounding orchestrations to run overtop the metal.
The result is something that balances perfectly the gentle and heavy. Ihsahn's vocals are quite strong, on both a clean and harsh front. Much like Opeth frontman Mikael Akerfeldt- who would later perform on Ihsahn's second album 'Angl'- Ihsahn is able to capture the best of both worlds. What particularly impressed me were the vocal harmonies he performs here; Ihsahn is able to overdub his voice to make the performance that much more beautiful, or epic.
Ulver and Arcturus vocalist Garm Krystoffer Rygg also does a very nice vocal performance on the fourth track, 'Homecoming'; the songwriting is graciously arranged to allow him to explore the range of his voice. Ihsahn also has his moments of vocal glory; 'Astera Ton Proinon' lets him go from gentle vocals, to screams, to choral chanting, all within the space of three or four minutes.
First off, people who think Ihsahn peaked after Wrath of the Tyrant, stop reading. However, rather than taking Emperor into a foreign direction, the Emperors decided Save Me - Various - El Sonido Detroit (Vinyl, Album) call it quits. For example, his Mercyful Fate influence comes out into full swing during the track, Called by the Fire.
The prog influenced Homecoming with Garm of Ulver, features catchy vocal hooks that would have ruined an Emperor album. Melody is something that was limited in Emperor.
Not to say Emperor lacked melody, but rather, was limited to a sinister one Hurry Home - Ya Ho Wha 13 - God And Hair (Box Set) they pulled off flawlessly. This may sound like a bad thing a cheesy symphonic metal move but Ihsahn proves to not only be an exceptional keyboardist, but also an extremely talented clean vocalist.
The Adversary is much more focused on melody than brutality. One of the biggest pros on this album, Called By The Fire - Ihsahn - The Adversary all work featuring Ihsahn, is that Ihsahn has a unique way of playing guitar.
For further example, check out the some of his online guitar tutorials. When listening to this album, you get the sense that Ihsahn was held back with Emperor held back by the rules set by the black metal community.
With The Adversary, we have compositions that cater to the artist breaking traditional black metal rules. For cons, The Adversary feels to have too many ideas at once. This album has proven to be more of a stepping-stone for the two proceeding albums Angl and After Originally published in "The Wormwood Chronicles. Simply put, Ihsahn Called By The Fire - Ihsahn - The Adversary beginning to lose his edge a bit. Many musicians these fall into this illusion that I refer to as "the artist illusion", where putting out good quality material that average potential audience members can get into takes a backseat to putting out self-indulgent, practically masturbatory material mainly in an effort to express artistic integrity Take a look at the current noise rock, industrial, and raw, under-produced black metal for further reference.
With this release, Ihsahn sure seems guilty as charged. For those of you looking for one of the former members to continue on with the Emperor sound, this is probably as close as you'll get until they reunite permanently. Truth be told the black metal moments on here could probably best be called Emperor-lite. It's more intricate and as a result a bit less heavy than some of us raised on "Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk" are used to.
Good reference point: I dunno, make a halfway point between newer Mayhem, Ulver, Arcturus, and Borknagar. But mind you, that's just the black metal spectrum of things. At other times on this disc it seems like Ihsahn is spreading himself a bit too thin trying to expand his horizons. New York State Of Mind - Billy Joel - Souvenir, The Ultimate Collection (Box Set, Album, Album, Albu to this some truly intricate guitar weaving sure to please any Opeth fan and you have a mish-mash that although every element is truly something great, I am of the opinion that it's just too jumpy and without flow.
I could say it's without focus, but that's not entirely accurate. It has focus on a song level, but not on an album level if that makes any sense. And that, I think, is the greatest dilemma that will face any listener that picks up this album. They will probably look at it the same way I did: where most of the components that make up the machine are of top-notch quality, and yet the machine itself still fails to function. In short, this is terrible music that alternates between boring and annoying.
This sucks. This is offensive. If you are not convinced to avoid this crap, then you should read below. There are some guitar riffs that are technically passable as metal, just there to ensure that this album will be considered metal by people. Technically metal, but nothing that really makes you feel metal. Most of the riffs sound like heavy metal riffs played in a technical way, with some elongated bars and stop-starts, or prog metal riffs. They are very bad, and are delivered in an utterly powerless guitar tone - almost as powerless as distorted guitars can get.
Also, I really fail to hear ANY black metal here. There are a few tremolo riffs, but they are hardly prominent, and nor are they really black metal tremolo riffs at all. There is one very noticeable tremolo riff that keeps appearing again and again irritatingly so in And He Shall Walk In Empty Places, but that riff is Called By The Fire - Ihsahn - The Adversary sugary-sweet that it sounds more like something I would expect to hear outside on a snowy Christmas Eve than anything even remotely resembling black metal.
While there isn't any good riff, under-verse riffs in particular are much worse than riffs that are played alone. It seems like Ihsahn put zero effort in them, knowing full well that the synths and his vocals are going to bury them anyway.
The problem is, he forgot about his own calculations and used those under-verse riffs even in parts without the vocals, revealing just how bad those riffs are. The bigger problem yet is that his vocals are absolutely annoying. Now, before I go on about the famous King Diamond-styled falsettos, I will first mention that his harsh vocals, which are really only half harsh, are really annoying.
He tries really hard, too, making the listener feel some sort of sympathy - which eventually develops into anger. I literally laughed my ass off when I heard him go "Uhh!! And the vocals are annoyingly high in the mix and sound very close to the listener, making matters worse. Then of course, there are the all too famous clean vocals that Called By The Fire - Ihsahn - The Adversary like a parody of Kind Diamond. If all the annoying and boring music were a death sentence, Au Clair De La Lune - Passe-Partout - Passe-Partout Vol.
3 this is the execution of the said sentence, marking the death of everything that could have appeared to have the tiniest chance of salvaging the album from utter failure. These vocals make you shudder just by being so awfully bad. And he shows no sense of self-discipline at all. While the harsh vocals are still annoying as hell, he decides to use these even worse clean vocals at least as much as, if not more than, the harsh vocals.
And the way in which these vocals are used are the absolute worst one can think of. This is where The Adversary reveals itself as a full-fledged enemy of metal, if the previous hints did not convince you that it is. The slow, mellow sections with synths that attempts to appear epic, but instead sound like I haven't heard enough pop to actually compare these to it, but these sure as hell feel fucking cheesy and poppy.
These parts are not even technically passable as metal when the drums finally decide to fuck off for a moment. In fact, these parts are so un-metal to the point where they cease to be merely Called By The Fire - Ihsahn - The Adversary metal, but anti-metal.
Of course, not being metal may not entail suckage, but these are No. 36 - Evangelista, Pontifex, Jesus, Chori: Und Der Hohepriester Antwortete - Johann Sebastian B anyway, viewed from any perspective, and especially offensive to the metal ears.
And these parts are abundant; to exaggerate a bit, about half the album is fucking unmetal annoyance. Sometimes these are even used as choruses, and the last song, which is the Louis Armstrong - The Big Band Sides 1930/32 track, is mellow for the most part.
Oh, and the fucking "Will you love me now? I know that it isn't a "love song" type of thing, but still, it is so damn ludicrous.
Home - Eolian - Egg, What Now My Love - Elvis* - Aloha From Hawaii Via Satellite, Holy Ones - Paul Horn & R. Carlos Nakai - Inside Monument Valley, New York Connection - The Sweet - Hit-Singles, Untitled - Sky Limousine - Envision