Metal Hammer editor Alexander Milas recently conducted an interview with EMPEROR frontman Ihsahn (real name: Vegard Sverre Tveitan) for the "Metal Hammer" radio show on TeamRock Radio. You can listen to the chat using the SoundCloud player below.
The official lyric video for the song "NaCl" from Ihsahn can be seen below. The track comes off his fifth solo album, "Das Seelenbrechen", which was released on October 21 in North America via Candlelight Records. The effort was made available on compact disc, a limited edition digibook (with expanded graphics and liner notes), and double 180-gram clear vinyl.
"Das Seelenbrechen" is a bold and adventurous recording that is a musical contrast to the progressive shades and saxophone augmentations of the EMPEROR vocalist/guitarist's previous two albums (2009's "After" and 2011's "Eremita"). The album exists in an entirely unfamiliar sonic world as Ihsahn draws upon his most esoteric influences, fully embracing the spirit of the avant-garde. Comprising ten vivid but disparate explorations in sound that range from bittersweet electronica to deranged and feral improvisation, "Das Seelenbrechen" is every bit as dark and destructive as the artist's previous work but is far more disorientating and disturbing than anything he has attempted in his past.
"Musically, this album is a very deliberate sidestep to what I have been doing; a necessity to reset the creative parameters so not to fall into formula," says Ihsahn. "I think I do my best work slightly outside of my comfort zone and I've wanted to do something like this for a long time. Free form and improvisational can be scary for a musician but it is very liberating at the same time."
Recorded at Ihsahn's own studio in Norway in collaboration with drummer Tobias Ornes Anderson (LEPROUS), "Das Seelenbrechen" courageously eschews traditional metal instrumentation in favor of a limitless textural landscape that evokes the freewheeling spirit of artists like Diamanda Galas, Scott Walker, and John Zorn. Ihsahn notes; "Even though my music has changed over the years, I feel there is a source of inspiration at the bottom of it all that is constant. The general idea for this album was to try and dig deep into this raw source and express it without too much refinery and do so within a less familiar musical landscape. It is the reason for several purely improvised songs and parts on this album. I spontaneously performed with just lyrics and the idea of the atmosphere I was wishing to create. While many will feel it sounds different, I don't think it is necessarily different from my previous album. And in my head, it will fit in perfectly with my plans for the sixth album."
"Das Seelenbrechen" takes its name from Nietzche's famed "Human, All Too Human: A Book Of Free Spirits". Writings by the 19th-century philosopher and other historical figures have often found their way into Ihsahn's songwriting.
"The title is taken from one of his aphorisms on art and how, in its purest form, is neither good nor bad," says Ihsahn. The album's abstract packaging, again conceived by Spanish graphic artist Ritxi Ostariz, embraces the aphorisms essence.
Few artists in modern heavy music have created such an extraordinary and unique body of work as Ihsahn. Having refined and redefined black metal with the now legendary EMPEROR, Norway's foremost musical extremist has spent the last decade establishing himself as a fearless and wildly idiosyncratic solo artist.
"Of all my albums, my goals for this one have been the most abstract," says Ihsahn. "I've had quite a rollercoaster ride putting it together but now that it is done I must say I am very pleased."
"Das Seelenbrechen" track listing:
05. Tacit 2
09. Sub Alter
11. Entropie (bonus)
12. Hel (bonus)