symphonic black metal
Remember this, you others: the fire and the fury, the strength and defiance, this you admire, this you desire, I had to win them
for myself. - "And He Shall Walk in Empty Places" / The Adversary
Just thirty years of age, Ihsahn has traveled far beyond his rural beginnings. In little more than a decade, the largely self-taught
musician has amassed a resume that when combined exceeds more than three quarters of a million worldwide album sales.
His cumulative professional accolades include a 2001 Spelleman (Norwegian Grammy) Award nomination, 2003 Notodden
City Cultural Award, and countless "Best of" class honors in internationally respected metal and rock magazines including
Terrorizer, Metal Maniacs, Revolver, Kerrang!, Guitar World and many more. Now with The Adversary, the former Emperor vocalist/guitarist steps outside the comforts of an ensemble or collaboration and commands for the first time his most challenging
project - a solo album.
Opening the near fifty-one minute epic, "Invocation" is the musical canvas for the album's first video. Instantly recalling his
last metal penmanship, Emperor's 2001 swan song Prometheus: The Discipline of Fire & Demise, the song and album as a
whole "is a continuation of my work within the metal genre," says Ihsahn in a recent media interview. "It incorporates influential
elements from all stages of my background since I first picked up the guitar twenty years ago."
Recorded over various intervals at Ihsahn's Notodden-based Symphonique Studios and mixed at Juke Joint Studio (facilities
co-owned by Mnemosyne Productions, a business venture of Ihsahn and partner Ihriel), the album features performing
contribution from drummer Asgeir Mickelson (Borknagar, Spiral Architect). "Asgeir is a very talented musician," says Ihsahn.
"He was the perfect guy for the job and was great to work with." The Adversary further finds a guest vocal performance on the
album's fourth song, "Homecoming," from fellow musician Garm (Ulver, Arcturus). "When laying down vocals for the pre-production,
the lines themselves virtually invited the participation of my long-time friend to come and sing. I have done some work on various recordings of his and now it was my chance to bring him in on one of mine," he says in jest.
Free to concentrate on the instrumental structure, "Homecoming" afforded Ihsahn the opportunity to break from his distinguished
and immediately identifiable Emperor style. Opting for a somber yet expectedly complex arrangement, the song handsomely
showcases his exceptional handiwork (the album's guitar, bass and keyboard all courtesy of Ihsahn). "My practical experience
with progressive metal of this sort is limited. With this song and several others my wish was to explore the style's potential on
both a technical and atmospheric level."
"Astera Ton Proinon" is at The Adversary's mid-point. From a quiet beginning, the song quickly gives way to a thundering
cadence that is enhanced by impressive layers of vocal harmonies, passionate and symbolic prose. "This song addresses
a special interest of mine and recuring theme in my writing," notes Ihsahn. "The struggle of personal purpose or individuality
is an ageless battle. Icaros, Lucifer, Prometheus, Zarathustra are all persons of history who challenged commonly accepted,
most often enforced "truths," despite civilization's persecution of them and their followers. Their stories are inspirational."
The Adversary's simple artwork depicts a solitary figure as he stands pondering society's punishment for his beliefs. Or perhaps
the narrative is to the positive as he awaits the praise of his conviction - the ultimate victory. Either way, the album's packaging
serves as a candid graphical testament of Ihsahn's lyrical characters and a fitting visual from an artist whose music and voice
has inspired a genre that continues to salute each sonic chapter.
At six, Ihsahn (born Vegard Tveitan) selected piano as his first instrument. Four years later guitar became his muse; initial
training coming by way of emulating his early album purchases and Iron Maiden tab-books. A teenage friendship with Tomas
Haugen (a.k.a. Samoth) would trigger the start of his music career - one that to date includes over fifty individual recordings,
five high-profile Emperor European tours (the band reaching US shores on only two occasions) and the respect of fans and
peers the world over.