February 10, 2020 Ihsahn – Telemark (EP Review)
An artist who needs no introduction, Vegard Tveitan has been making music underneath the pseudonym Ihsahn for over thirty years. Ever since he adopted the stage name as a teenager, spearheading the second wave of Norwegian Black Metal with Emperor, Ihsahn has quite organically and restlessly provided challenge both to himself and his growing crop of listeners.
Fostering a solo career which by now spans the greater length of his career, Ihsahn is starting off the third decade of the new millennium with two 5 song EP’s. The first one, entitled Telemark, strikes the world on the 14th of February, 2020, and comes to us via Candlelight Records. As with any of the seven full-length albums he has produced since going solo, there is no telling exactly in what direction a new Ihsahn creation will take this brilliant songwriter.
Telemark features three original compositions and two cover songs. Beginning with the strident and piercing “Stridig,” Ihsahn shows both his driving, heavy side as well as the proggy subtleties he has become known for. The presence of saxophone, blended smoothly into the racket, provides another layer of dynamics to the mix.
“Nord,” sung in his native Norwegian tongue, features a more mid-paced, melodic backdrop with an engaging bass guitar line. Ihsahn invokes the feel of the Black Metal of his homeland here, despite the fact the song is not the heaviest or fastest tune on offer. Some lovely soloing rounds out what is definitely a highlight song in Ihsahn’s repertoire.
The song “Telemark” jams, a Prog-infused intro calling to mind the glorious instrumental runs which ignite the passions of fans from all over the spectrum of hard music. Ihsahn’s shredded up vocal belies the classic melodies going on, pouring on the spite of the old days into the depths of the composition. Keeping the tension high, the song positively rocks out throughout its length.
The Telemark EP is rounded out by a rocking cover of Iron Maiden’s “Wrathchild,” and “Rock and Roll is Dead” by Lenny Kravitz. The former, in keeping with what one might expect from Ihsahn, is an immediately gratifying listen, while the latter takes a bit of getting used to.
Once again, Ihsahn achieves his goal of creating challenging Heavy Metal music that nods to his past while forging steadfastly ahead, albeit in a slightly less experimental fashion than at times throughout his discography. CrypticRock gives Telemark 4 out of 5 stars.
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