Wednesday, May 28, 2008

In Which Ihsahn Becomes My Favorite

While I've written a bit in the past about my love for Emperor, I really haven't said all I should, particularly when it comes to Ihsahn. After years of waiting, I finally got my chance to see Emperor on their reunion tour two years ago, an event that left me drooling at the mouth at the sheer awesomeness of the evening, despite its brevity.

Ihsahn impressed me that night by emanating the sort of evil that you see in creepy psychotics in psychological horror films; more Norman Bates or Hannibal Lecter than the cartoonishly garish "evil" represented by black metal bands in corpse paint and spiky armor (although Ihsahn pulled that look off pretty well back in the day, too). It wasn't that I expected him to kill anyone, but more that he looked like someone who could offer intelligent discourse on the aspects of extreme individualism in Satanism and not sound like a douchebag when doing it. He had gravitas.

Anyway, not long after that he released Adversary, which was very good, and now he's just released angL, which defines new levels of awesome and makes me wonder why I thought I could ever write music in the first place (seriously, it's that good. Buy the album and listen to it while driving through some dark, snowy coniferous woods or something similar and discover new emotional depths in your soul. Maybe if enough of us do so, he'll come tour the album in the US and make my year). Today, Ihsahn reached new levels of awesomeness in my esteem.

About a month and a half ago, I had a dream where I hung out with Mike Portnoy, and I woke up wondering what we would have really talked about. Today, I watched the second part of a documentary done by two guys from MetalKult, who flew out to Norway and toured Ihsahn's studio while he explained the uses of each piece of gear. The charismatic front man with the on stage heart of black ice turned into the recording gear geek, talking about how he'd sequenced "Opus a Satana" in Cubase 2 hooked up to a Roland synthesizer because he wanted to learn how to use the equipment, or how the microphone he just bought is a special edition full of tubes they don't make any more. It was glorious, and now I know what we'd talk about if the two of us were ever to grab a beer: we'd geek out about studio equipment.

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