I am going to say up front that I am not a fan of Black Metal. It is primarily the vocals that just rub me the wrong way. I don’t mind harsh vocals, but the almost screechiness of BM vocals turns me off. So here we have the fourth full length solo album from Norwegian metal legend Ihsahn, probably most well known for fronting Emporer.
I must admit that I tremendously like a lot of the music on Eremita. The songwriting is solid as can be, heavy, melodic, atmospheric (read: dark) at times, although sometimes a bit too atmospheric (Grief, The Grave -8 minutes long- & the last half of The Eagle and the Snake). The musicianship on display here is top notch – though sometimes chaotic and a bit strange, particularly the heavy presence of saxophone. Ihsahn’s music brings fleeting glimpses of different styles and perhaps influences. The presence of a number of guest musicians also has an impact here with appearances by Devin Townsend, Jeff Loomis, and Einar Solberg from Leprous. There are a few bands that were brought to mind as I listened to Eremita, including Green Carnation (there is an Emporer connection), Voivod, Nevermore (no surprise, as it is on the Loomis track), Sonata Arctica, and Mr. Bungle – quite a diverse collection. No doubt that Ihsahn has produced a diverse album.
There are some definite standout tracks that I get into despite my misgivings about the vocals. The two opening tracks, Arrival and The Paranoid are simply outstanding. The first half of The Eagle and the Snake is pretty good, and the song Something Out There is one I would call compelling. Closer Departure is not too shabby either.
The vocals lose me though. If only they were a bit less Black Metal-like and more of a Death Metal sound, or even more melodic, I would enjoy it much more. Musically, this is an excellent work; vocally, I would prefer something different. For those of you that enjoy the BM screeches and appreciate eclectic metal- I have little doubt you will dig this.
Here is The Paranoid.
I hear the sound in a METAL way (just not Black Metal).