Release Date: October 21, 2013
One has to appreciate the beauty of a man’s evolution which tells us so much about the tenacity and innovativeness of the individual. From being the emperor of black metal, this six-feet-one-inch tall Norwegian chap, garbed in obscure corpse paint, transformed to offer us a barrage of downright heavy and melodic progressive riffs combined with vein-piercing solos and twisting harsh vocals in his epic trilogy. And now, Ihsahn has turned his solo project into something dark, something inscrutable or as I should say, something totally bizarre, yet quite brilliant.
Das Seelenbrechen, which literally translates to “The Broken Soul”, is a follow-up to his last album, Eremita. While Eremita offered us quite a bit of aggression with a few experimental bits, the songs in Das Seelenbrechen are mostly avant-garde, being downright ambient and mind-altering, more or less featuring clean vocals.
I have a hard time classifying this album in any genre; I won’t say that the music is metal, I can’t say it’s not metal; the songs aren’t very bright of course, but neither are they very sinister altogether. The songs in the album have no definite structures or defining riffs. In most tracks, everything has been done with minimum use of instruments; hell, there are a zillion parts where we don’t even hear a proper drum line, it’s all just chaos. I would say with Das Seelenbrechen, Ihsahn has really reformed his musical style and methodologies.
Most of the songs from second half of the album like “Tacit 2”, “Tacit”, “Rec” and “See” perfectly exemplify the nuttiness that I’ve been talking about. These tracks are daft war-pieces that offer us sheer haphazard mayhem! Right from the point where they pick up, it’s all just chaos, in the form of eccentric and bloodcurdling guitar noises and absolute chaotic random drum lines. Although the song, “Tacit”, does have a melodic edge with the all the implementation of brass section, which may sound pretty appealing to an individual with taste for avant-garde music.
Then there are these micro-symphonies “Pulse” and “Sub Alter”, which offer us quite a surrealistic experience with the beautiful clean guitar melodies, keyboard orchestrations and soft drums, with “Pulse” being on the brighter side and “Sub Alter” being a little dull and doomy. “M” is yet another marvel of a song from Ihsahn where he goes outside of his domain and experiments with the sound. The song has a very 8o’s classic rock touch, with a bluesy guitar solo laid on a low tempo drum line; a sound that reminds me of the record, A Momentary Lapse Of Reason. Well yes, Pink Floyd! Ihsahn can really surprise us sometimes!
Let’s talk about the relatively normal songs on the album now! “NaCl”, the “salty” song of the album, is a little heavy and somewhat indicative of Ihsahn’s previous works. Although, it does have a few experimental sections, it follows a certain song structure and contains a few catchy progressions, which exhibit a strong symphonic edge.
The first track, “Hiber”, is the heaviest on the album, with some crazy, trippy experimental sections. The orchestrations on the song are grave and Ihsahn’s grand harsh vocals make the song more powerful altogether. Lastly, “Regen” is one of my favorite off the album. Being low-tempo paced, the song is a bit on the melancholic side and exhibits a splendid flow of ethereal symphonic harmonies. It is heavily orchestrated and offers us a brilliant combination of clean and harsh vocals, with Ihsahn’s solo making it really big, in total.
So here it is – the new Ihsahn album! Not so heavy, not so straight! A bit twisted in its deepest way! Whether you should buy this album or not, totally depends on you! I would definitely spend my money on this. Das Seelenbrechen may not offer what Ihsahn fans would typically expect in an album, but this is definitely a fantastic release from the maestro, simply putting out how wonderful of a musician he is!
by Owais Vitek Nabi and Varun K.