One of the metal scene’s most prodigious and prolific talents, Ihsahn has been at the forefront of heavy music for the past two decades. In the small Norwegian town of Notodden, at the age of 13, he began his career as a member of what would become fledgling black metal crew Emperor; a band that would go on to both define and refine the genre, pushing the boundaries of what was considered possible within that most arcane of art forms and taking some of the most adventurous and extreme music of all time to a huge global audience. With albums like the seminal ‘In The Nightside Eclipse’ – which was recorded when Ihsahn was only 17 – and ‘Anthems To The Welkin At Dusk’, Emperor obliterated all-comers and became one of the most revered metal bands in history. After the release of their final masterpiece, ‘Prometheus: The Discipline Of Fire & Demise’, in 2001, Ihsahn announced that the band were to part ways to enable himself and his colleagues to pursue new creative avenues.
Since that point, Ihsahn has been an omnipresent and remorselessly significant force in both the worlds of metal and avant-garde music. With gleefully obscure projects like Peccatum, Thou Shalt Suffer and Hardingrock, the Norwegian has explored many different areas of recorded sound, consistently daring to stray into brave and often uncharted musical territory. In addition to his career as a musician, he also teaches guitar, has written a regular column for Guitar World magazine and runs Mnemosyne Productions and Ivory Shoulder Studio with his partner Heidi S. Sveitan, but it is with his career as a solo artist that he has truly established himself as a unique, charismatic and fearless sonic adventurer. His first solo album, ‘The Adversary’, emerged in 2006 to widespread critical acclaim, displaying a breadth of vision and a diversity of execution that once again confirmed its creator’s extraordinary gift for making heavy music fired by a potent and vivid imagination. In 2008, he went even further down this inspirational road on the wild blend of brutality and beauty that was ‘angL’. A guest appearance by kindred spirit Mikael Åkerfeldt of Swedish titans Opeth was just one of the album’s characteristics that indicated Ihsahn’s newfound desire to fully exploit his progressive urges, and on 2010′s universally lauded ‘After’ – the final part of a planned trilogy of albums – that desire erupted in startling kaleidoscopic glory, duly earning a nomination at the Norwegian Grammys. With a dizzying array of styles and influences on display, not to mention the contributions of saxophonist Jorgen Monkeby (from Norwegian jazz-metal maniacs Shining), ‘After’ was widely hailed as a masterpiece and the finest recorded work of Ihsahn’s career to date. Live shows followed, further cementing the great man’s reputation as a fiercely modern metal figurehead, including major European and US festivals and shows with Opeth, Shining and a co-headlining tour of Japan with The Haunted.
And now, in 2012, Ihsahn is set to unveil his greatest album to date. Entitled ‘Eremita’, the new record is another devastating tour de force of ferociously imaginative and progressive extreme metal that towers above most other artists’ meager mbitions. This time round, guest appearances from cutting edge shred-king Jeff Loomis and crazed genius Devin Townsend (both returning favors after Ihsahn recently appeared on their own albums), Einar Solberg and Tobias Andersen from his backing band Leprous, plus the return of the idiosyncratic Jorgen Monkeby, all add fresh colours and atmospheres to Ihsahn’s elaborate but absorbing take on heavy metal. With more high profile festival appearances set for the coming summer, this looks set to be Ihsahn’s busiest and most triumphant year to date. Marking the beginning of a new era in his creative life, ‘Eremita’ is this living legend’s boldest statement to date.
Prepare to have your mind blown all over again…