The chapter of the phenomenon that was Emperor might have been closed some time ago. But Ihsahn continues to keep the fire burning, with flames of vivid colors and hypnotic movements. As his solo releases spun off groves and saw new horizons, what pulled the carriage didn’t change much. After almost 15 years of releases under the name of Ihsahn, we see another offering on Feb 14, ‘Telemark’, albeit a small one this time.
‘Telemark’ is the first of the two 5-track EPs to be released, and is based on Ihsahn’s home county in Norway. Consistent to that, Ihsahn strips down some of the experimental musings of the previous albums to take a darker and more-towards-barebone approach to the extreme metal present here. The lyrics are in Norwegian, in accordance with the celebration of the space where it all started.
Now, the EP consists of 5 tracks, but two of these are covers, so technically you only get 3 new Ihsahn tracks. The first track “Stridig” starts off reminding me of early Ihsahn – ‘The Adversary’ or ‘angL’ – right off the bat. The hurried style of riffing to build the energy, only to be temporarily defused midway with smooth guitar work, is classic Ihsahn foreplay. “Nord” is a mid-paced track constructed on an interplay of signs of danger and hopeful revelations and relief when it comes to the melodies. The guitar solo following it is acceptance of the juxtapositions.
The title track “Telemark” is the longest, and the strongest, track of this EP. The main melody, along the associated melodies, of the track has a folksy tinge to it, which makes sense considering the theme of personal roots. But also integral to these personal roots in the blistering and gut-wrenching black metal. The initial nostalgia-inducing melody is molded into powerful and moving riffs and several threads converge to an emphatic climax. The next couple of tracks are covers, I’m assuming selected for their relevance to what Ihsahn was exposed to early in his career. The first one is “Rock and Roll is Dead” by Lenny Kravitz, and the second is “Wrathchild” by Iron Maiden. This rendition of “Wrathchild” rules.
‘Telemark’ is a solid bite-sized release that seems very organic about its purpose. It features Ihsahn’s ideas that he has already stabilized and instead of going to unknown spaces, he lets what had already existed channel through the new him once again. If this means that we’ll see more black metal in the next EP as well, I can’t wait. If this means that we’ll see something that will complement ‘Telemark’, I can’t wait.