Ihsahn has announced a new self-titled solo album arriving February 16th. The Norwegian black metal legend has also unveiled two different versions — one black metal and one symphonic — of the lead single “Pilgrimage to Oblivion.”
The metal version immediately calls to mind Celtic Frost’s seminal album Into the Pandemonium with its fusion of black metal and bombastic orchestral arrangement. Ihsahn’s vocals are starkly placed among the music, which has tangible prog-metal slant in its composition, following the template of the Emperor founder’s latter solo material.
“‘Pilgrimage to Oblivion’ serves as a rather immediate introduction to the overarching musical and conceptual aspects of the album,” remarked Ihsahn in a press release. “The lyrics go directly into the storyline and the video is the first in a sequel of videos portraying the whole story.”
Ihsahn’s upcoming album will be issued with an alternate symphonic version (similar to Portrayal of Guilt’s 2023 epic Devil Music, which featured an orchestral supplement in a purposeful nod to the aforementioned Into the Pandemonium). The accompanying symphonic version of “Pilgrimage to Oblivion” offers a preview of this striking interpretation of the songs.
“On average, I’ve been releasing a full-length album every second year since I was 16,” remarked Ihsahn via a press release. “And, you know, that has given me some opportunity to explore different options, so for my eighth full-length solo record, I thought, ‘Okay, how can I do what I do best, but also raise the bar tenfold?”
The entire project was self-produced and scored over the course of three years by Ihsahn. The “metal” version of the album was mixed by Jens Bogren, and the “orchestral” version mixed by Joel Dollié (both were mastered by Tony Lindgren). According to the press release, the process pushed Ihsahn “to his limits,” and he drew not only from his core black metal influences, but the works of legendary film-soundtrack composers.
“At the heart of what I do is black metal, extreme distorted guitars and screaming,” he mused, “but since the earliest Emperor recordings you’ll hear the keyboard parts influenced by classic soundtracks by the likes of Jerry Goldsmith, John Williams, Bernard Herrmann, John Carpenter and so on.”
He continued: “So, I approached the writing with the intent to present the material in its full-blown metal expression, but also to arrange the orchestral parts in such a way that they would work independently. Somehow an attempt to write a soundtrack within the structures of the full production, allowing me to explore different, and sometimes contrasting, variations of essentially the same music. In the end I wrote all the music as a piano short-score and arranged it for a typical band ensemble and orchestra, accordingly, making sure everything interlocked.”
You can pre-order Ihsahn’s self-titled album via Spinefarm. Stream both versions of “Pilgrimage to Oblivion” and see the album art and tracklist below.
01. Cervus Venator
02. The Promethean Spark
03. Pilgrimage To Oblivion
04. Twice Born
05. A Taste Of The Ambrosia
06. Anima Extraneae
07. Blood Trails To Love
08. Hubris And Blue Devils
09. The Distance Between Us
10. At The Heart Of All Things Broken
11. Sonata Profana