EMPEROR front man Ihsahn (real name: Vegard Sverre Tveitan) recently spoke with The Metal Tris about his forthcoming solo album, "Ámr". The full conversation can be viewed below. A few excerpts follow (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET):
Ihsahn: "I guess for every album, I kind of create some kind of space for creative focus. I always flesh out some general ideas of the album, like with my previous album, 'Arktis'. Everything was kind of placed in this scene of an Arctic landscape, so the metaphors in the lyrics, everything, can be placed in that. Obviously, the artwork reflects on it, and the sound is kind of open. This time, it all happens inside, and hence the production and the sounds, there's not so much orchestral, large sounds. It's much more focused on analog synthesis, which is much more of an intimate sound. The drum sound is almost, like, urban or disco-like — just different set of sounds to arrange this, and to hopefully create an atmosphere that is different. I've often found that creating a scenario like that before going into the writing process makes it easier to fit the pieces together. In my opinion, I think I kind of come back to very much of the same issues and same paradoxes. I guess at the heart of it is that constant human existential question. I won't say that 'Ámr' is any more negative; it's just from maybe a bit more desolate point of view. I think the opening tracks gives some of the perspective away in the title — 'Lend Me The Eyes Of The Millenia'. In art, this stretching and freezing of time fascinates me. Maybe the most famous art expressions are often of human tragedy — the cross, for example. A person tortured and nailed to a cross, and for millions of people, it's one of the most beautiful things that exists. When you freeze it into a piece of art, it's suddenly something beautiful."
On OPETH guitarist Fredrik Åkesson, who guests on the album's "Arcana Imperii":
Ihsahn: "He has the technical proficiency of the modern guitar player. It seems limitless, but still he has the tone and soulfulness of five decades. It's certainly something unique, and [he's] one of my absolute players in that regard. Sometimes it's very hard to listen to your own recordings. It's your own voice; it's your own playing; and it's almost impossible to enjoy it objectively. But I've found that by having guests that would do a different style of vocal or a guitar solo that I could not do myself, it creates more distance, and it kind of widens the perspective of the songs, and it makes it possible for me to enjoy the end result more objectively."
On whether there's a constant thread between his solo albums:
Ihsahn: "The constant would probably be [me], for better or worse. The reason I started doing this is because I was always super-enthusiastic and excited and the whole process of sound on so many levels, from aesthetics to more mundane production techniques. Every aspect of it. If I'm not super-excited about making it, I can't really expect anyone to be excited about listening to it. In my experience, what I guess I've learned to try and trust is that whether I take a totally different approach sonically or inspiration-wise, I trust the process – that at the end of the day, I will still sound like me, but just in a different way."
On being influenced by film composers:
Ihsahn: "Orchestral soundtracks have been a big influence on me, even since the early EMPEROR days, because it's big. We're drawn to this music because it's larger than life. At the same time, in a lot of modern urban music, you have the same kind of massive-ness, but maybe in a more intimate way. With this album, I've explored more the intensity of that, rather than the wideness of things — more the intensity of sub-sounds, like sub-bass."
On EMPEROR's early days:
Ihsahn: "We all had that reference of BATHORY, and to me, Quorthon's vocals have obviously been a huge influence. Beyond that, I found it very strange, all this rigid parameters, this kind of cultural police. It's kind of a strange paradox with this kind of music, where it's really, 'Do what thou will shall be the whole of the law,' very individualistic in philosophy and expression, and, 'Yeah, but we have to keep it with what is allowed within the scene. We let other people decide how we make our music.' It doesn't add up. I still define my music as black metal, because it's still uncompromising, and to me, Diamanda Galás can conjure up just as much of a black metal atmosphere as early BATHORY."
"Ámr", Ihsahn's seventh solo album, will be released on May 4 via Candlelight/Spinefarm.