Category Archives: Black Metal

Ihsahn – Eremita (Review)

I resisted buying this for a surprisingly long time. Eremita has been picking up some great reviews since its release and has been compared very favourably with its 2010 predecessor, After, which I enjoyed very much. Despite all this, every time I picked it up in the shops I just couldn’t be arsed. Weird.

Eventually I just had to force myself to buy it and I’m glad I did because this has the edge on its predecessor and is one of the most enjoyable releases of the year so far.

Opener Arrival gets things off to an exciting start with a Dream-Theater style rampaging riff. It’s also immediately noticeable that the vocal performance is more nuanced than on After and there are some pleasingly soulful Kings X style harmonies which are a nice touch (Arrival guest vocalist Einar Solberg certainly brings to mind Kings X vocalist Doug Pinnick). The guitars are also allowed some free reign from Ihsahn’s usual orchestrated approach and the result is some great shredding solos, in particular from Jeff Loomis on The Eagle and the Snake (one of the album’s centrepieces).

Emperor fans will be in more familiar territory with the track Something Out There which hits you in the face like an icy gale. Although the album’s overall feel is quite Avant-Garde (check out The Eagle and the Snake’s Jazz Café opening and orchestral interlude Grief) there is still enough evidence of Ihsahn’s Black Metal roots for this album to appeal to Emperor fans.

For an album that’s title translates as “Hermit” Eremita is surprisingly collaborative and impressively cohesive. It maybe doesn’t have the same peaks as After but it is more consistent and more fully-formed. I hadn’t been in the mood for this but it won me over and that’s an accomplishment in itself.

HMO Rating: 4 out of 5

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Noise-some Notes – A Week in Listening 17th June 2012

Here’s what’s been assaulting my ears this week.

Black Sabbath – Technical Ecstasy and Never Say Die The final two albums of the original Ozzy-led era of Sabbath. Neither of these albums are as bad as people say they are but they aren’t in the same league as the previous 6 albums. Oddly, Technical Ecstasy isn’t as good as I remember and Never Say Die is a bit better. Both were worth revisiting.

Coverdale/Page – S/T Might as well put my cards on the table here. I’ve had a man-crush on David Coverdale since 1987 and the Whitesnake album from that year is in my all-time Top 5. So I wasn’t very outraged at the prospect of him pairing up with Led Zep’s Jimmy Page. I rarely go back to this but when I do I always get really, really into it. And this time was no exception and might have been the most enjoyable listen of the week!

Rush – Clockwork Angels One of these magazine/album/crap freebie fan-packs that many bands are releasing these days. Once the Manowar one arrives that’ll be two this month (3 if you’re into Slash). Had one listen, enjoyed the first half immensely and the second half went over my head. But, as any Rush fan knows, their albums take time and many listens to reveal their charms so… another one I’ll have to cover in more detail as a Too Tempting to Resist post later.

Skyclad – Burnt Offering for the Bone Idol Awesome unsung slab of prime British Folk Metal! This band were well ahead of their time and featured legendary vocalist Martin Walkyier, a great hero of mine. Great ecological lyrics and a medieval, fantasy feel that was perfect for a teenager into RPGs and Lord of the Rings!

Ian Hunter – You’re Never Alone with a Schizophrenic Been listening to this a lot lately. Already touched on it in last weeks Noise-some Notes but I will point out that it strikes me how individual all the tracks are. Each one has its own thing going which makes for a great listening experience. You can’t put the thing off.

Rush – Snakes and Arrows (Side A) A preparatory listen to Rush’s previous album before the new one dropped. Listened to while walking home from work so only got half way through. Do all albums have to be so long now?

Cheap Trick – In Color Summery slice of power-pop genius. A lesson in album length and space between instruments. Listen to the fantastic bass sound on this!

Emperor – In the Nightside Eclipse Classic Black Metal album. Epic and sweeping, I always imagine this album sounds like it’s being carried on the wind. I envision hearing it like a clarion call from afar, before saddling my horse and riding off to see what all the racket was about. Anyway, a close look at the album cover suggests I wasn’t the only person in the 90s playing RPGs!

Heart – Bad Animals and S/T From a gorgeous 2nd-hand vinyl box set I just purchased so I’ll be covering these in a Too Tempting To Resist post at some time soon I’m afraid. Not a huge fan of this stuff but something about them keeps drawing me back since falling dreamily in love with both Ann and Nancy Wilson at the formative age of 10! Really catchy songs and Ann’s phenomenal voice are the other attractions I guess. And, as an added bonus, they counteracted the man-crush doubt cause by David Coverdale!

Noise-some Notes – A Week in Listening 8th June 2012

Here’s what’s been assaulting my ears this week:

King Crimson – Red A Prog classic but never one of my favourites from them I have to admit. More of a Lark’s Tongues In Aspic sort of guy. I have to say I enjoyed it immensely this time round though so maybe this is due a reappraisal.

Pink Floyd – Animals 1st time I’ve ever listened to this, enjoyed it again but a bit early to comment in any detail!

Candlemass – S/T This is a beast of an album and is unfairly overlooked due to the unfortunate on-off reunion with Messiah Marcolin. Only gripe is the line Mirrors for our souls which sounds a bit too much like Mirrors for arseholes for my liking. Once you notice something like that it’s hard to ignore it so.. sorry about that.

Watain – Sworn to the Dark I’ve listened to this quite a lot trying to decide about whether to buy their recent Opus Diaboli. I’m rating it more with every listen but still couldn’t hum a tune off this if I tried! I realise I’m probably missing the point..

Ian Hunter – You’re Never Alone With a Schizophrenic Probably not very metal but I don’t just listen to metal all the time! He’s the Hunter and you’re just the punter so be quiet. This is a great album, if you like Bowie, Springsteen, Dylan kind of stuff you should check this out although I rate him above any of them.

King Diamond – Abigail My girlfriend has a thing about haunted houses at the moment so this sprang to mind. The King’s high-low voice is great for singing the parts of the various characters and the band are shit-hot. Glad to see him bouncing back from his recent heart surgery!

Manilla Road – Crystal Logic Only just purchased so I’ll be covering this as a “Too Tempting To Resist” very soon.

John Renbourn – Sir John Alot of… Top Medieval Cobblers. Been on a bit of a folk kick with the recent purchase of the book Electric Eden and then I watched the BBCs excellent documentary Folk Brittannia too. Much better than the rather dull Punk Brittannia that was on recently.

Paradise Lost – Tragic Idol  I rated their last Faith Divides Us.. album as their best for some time and the best album of recent years so I was a bit dissappointed to be underwhelmed by this when I first got it. Then I realised it was because the weather was too sunny. Now it’s started pissing down its making perfect sense.

Def Leppard – Slang Really unfairly dismissed album of theirs and a bit of a shame their fanbase didn’t accept the slight shift in direction. And it was slight. That said, I don’t think it’s aged as well as some of their older stuff but there are some timeless tracks on here (as on every Lep album).

Saint Vitus – Born Too Late Picked the vinyl for this up in Amsterdam which seems appropriate. Seminal Stoner Doom.