By Lord Randall

With seven solo albums over the relatively short span of 12 years, Ihsahn (the man) has proven himself easily the most prolific member of EMPEROR outside the framework of that band. Reliable, though? For some, yes, for others, it’s a different answer. For myself, IHSAHN (the musical project) has been, for the most part, consistent, every album since "The Adversary" having more to enjoy than not, reaching its pinnacle with 2016’s "Arktis"., paving the way for "Amr". 

While each album has had its own braid of individuality – some a mere few strands from what came before, some a fully-formed rope – "Amr" is, if nothing else, IHSAHN’s most diverse. While opener ‘Lend Me The Eyes Of The Millenia’ ignites early on, ‘Arcana Imperii’ downtunes, yet the latter suffers musically. It’s not that the tune is “throwaway”, it just seems more like 4+-minutes of good ideas that never become a full song where economy would’ve better suited. Thankfully, ‘Samr’ recovers nicely (and surprisingly), conjuring acts as disparate as 11 AS IN ADVERSARIES and ALAN PARSONS PROJECT in its subdued grandeur, ‘One Less Enemy’ sprinkling just the slightest bit of HAWKWIND-ed space dust over the proceedings. Strike that, HAWKWIND’s star-vessel being piloted by VOIVOD circa "Nothingface". Being catchy as plague can’t save ‘In Rites Of Passage’, though the Keith Emerson-like organ assaults be plentiful and, to be fair, this one may grow on me over time, situated as it is before one of Amr’s high points, the rumbling, sonic grinding wheel of ‘Marble Soul’, which takes the best of all that’s come before and pushes it to the redline. 

Closing out with the most straightforward blackened track to be found within, ‘Wake’, which isn’t saying much when it comes to the diversity mentioned previously, Ihsahn (the man) has done it again. And may he ever…