Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Music Review - Ihsahn - angL

Ihsahn's second album, angL, has slowly but surely become one of my more played metal albums. The man behind the legendary Emperor really has some diverse talent, and it shows here.

The music here is incredibly varied and a testament to Ihsahn and his ability as a songwriter. Songs like the opener "Misanthrope" and "Malediction" really show his black metal/symphonic roots, while pieces like "Scarab," "Emancipation" and the last three songs all lean towards the progressive side, with numerous acoustic interludes, lots of clean vocals, relaxed fretless bass work and even a bluesy solo in "Threnody." There's a couple oddballs here, like "Alchemist," which opens with an insane riff and keeps to a pretty fast pace and closes with some fantastic solo work; and "Elevator," which is driven by soaring guitar and keyboard work.

 All the instruments sound terrific and are perfectly handled; my only complaints would b that the drums sound weak, and that takes away from some of the faster sections of the album, and the bass remains mostly hidden, except for the fretless solos. Keyboards are handled flawlessly, never overwhelming the music and adding brilliant atmospheric touches.

The vocals, being Ihsahn, are superb. The singing is calming, the screams are ferocious and unsettling and both fit perfectly well with the music. Mikael Åkerfeldt of Opeth makes an appearance on "Unhealer," and contributes some of his trademark growls and roars which sound terrific.

Lyrical content here is excellent and is mainly centered on thoughtful, poetic, introspective looks at life, individualism and existence. Ihsahn has always had a knack for good lyrics and these are no exception.

If I had to pick a weak part of the album...I'd say "Misanthrope," "Alchemist," and "Malediction" are the songs I'm not as fond of. They focus more on speed and technicality and seem to lack the atmosphere the other songs have. They aren't "bad" songs by any means, just not as solid as the rest.

Like I said above, this is an incredibly varied album. It's got raging furious songs, calming and soothing songs and some plain old weird songs, but all together make for one heck of an album. I highly recommend this to any fan of black metal, progressive metal or heavy music in general.

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