ALBUM: Ihsahn – “Das Seelenbrechen”
LABEL: Candlelight Records
GENRE: Extreme Progressive Metal
RATING: 9.0 / 10
After the almost-slaughter (by almost everyone but me) in Novembers ATW, I felt I needed to take a second look at Ihsahn‘s “Das Seelenbrechen”. Could it be so, that I had taken my previous fascination for this genius/madman into account and thus tainted my first opinion on the album in question? Well, let’s have a look…
“Das Seelenbrechen”, roughly translated “The Soul Break” in case you were wondering, is a very complicated piece. Progressive music tends to be that way, exploring oddities, scales, rhythms and sounds that normally does not belong in the genre. Most people don’t get it, nor do they like progression, in that context. Others, like myself, hear more than the supposed “randomness” in the drumbeats and “noise” that some of the songs display.
The first song, “Hilber”, offers a hint at what this album is about. It’s progressive elements are not as evident as some of the other songs on the album. In fact, it’s pretty much straight forward in a mid-tempo kind of way.
After that, we’re thrown into the moody landscape of “Regen”, a soft composition that begins with a piano and vocals in a filmical fashion and moves into a full scale arrangement with guitars, drums, orchestral scores and choirs, in an almost epic climax.
“NaCl” takes us on another journey of odd riffs and gloomy passages, and here is where the albums experimental side really begins, in my opinion. Still, it’s pretty straight forward and some of the stuff is, simply said, amazing.
“Pulse” is the fourth song on the album, a very repetitive, mellow song that digs deep inside my head. Whether or not it depends on the annoying little melody that is played almost throughout the song, with different instruments, I won’t even begin to contemplate, although it most likely so.
Now, let’s dive in!
“Tacit 2” is probably where most of you will turn off your player and listen to something else. To describe and analyse this 4 minutes and 58 seconds long piece of noise… well?
If you worship extreme black metal, this is what your favorite album sounds like to your friends who listens to Justin Bieber. They don’t “get it” in the same way as you probably don’t “get” this ;)
“Tacit”, the next song (yes, I know), is a bit more straight forward, although still lingering on the edge of madness, with a hint of despair and sadness. Very good song, yes, it is.
Following the gloom of “Tacit” is “Rec”, with more melodies (although odd ones at that) and softness, and yet, somehow, this song stresses me out and gets on my nerves. The abrupt end, however, leads perfectly into the composition “M”, which blends in elements of blues and jazz, and it definitely shows that Ihsahn is a widely skilled guitarist. This is good.
“Sub Alter” begins with a very moody intro; a clean guitar picks ominous melodies while the synth sets the atmosphere for one and a half minutes, before the slightly distorted voice enters. This song absolutely beautiful and definitely my favorite one on “Das Seelenbrechen”.
Last one on the album is called “See” and is built on feedback and rhythms. It’s experimental to the core and, well, it really pisses me off! Why, in the name of the Devil, do you end it this way, Ihsahn? Why? Seven and a half minutes of feedback and noise, building up a seriously high expectancy for a grandeur ending with an epic guitar riff of abyssic proportions and… nothing?
It fucking pisses me off!
Which is why I love this album; it fucking pisses me off at times. It’s fascinating and mesmerizing, irritating and devastating, all while being beautifully orchestrated and obnoxiously painful at the same time. It’s a damned masterpiece and Ihsahn will surely get some hate for it. I certainly hate it, and love it, and will continue to do so for a very long time.
Madman or genius? I’d say both and I stand by my grade in the ATW.
This is definitely a 9.0/10
Review by: GJ