IHSAHN Shares New Single 'The Distance Between Us' From Upcoming Self-Titled Album

January 18, 2024

EMPEROR frontman Ihsahn will release his new self-titled album on February 16, 2024 via Candlelight. The Norwegian progressive metal visionary has dared to push the realms of creative expressionism even further with his eighth studio offering. The release will embody two melodically interlinked versions of the same album: one metal, one fully symphonic, both creating a cinematically influenced masterpiece that is simply, definitively titled "Ihsahn".

Ahead of the release date, Ihsahn has shared the LP's third single, "The Distance Between Us", which introduces us to the more melancholic, spacious side of the release. Accompanying the track is a haunting new video, a continuation of the conceptual storyline which has been spread across previous singles, "Pilgrimage To Oblivion" and "Twice Born", all filmed by Shaun Hodson at Loki Films.

Ihsahn comments on the new track: "The first two singles were taken from the beginning of the conceptual narrative, generating the hubris and determination required. With this last single, we’re getting closer to the end of the story and hence both music and lyrics express a more reflective and melancholic perspective."

While his musical journey has been frequently revelatory, the masterful control of rhythm and movement displayed throughout "Ihsahn" shows his work as a songwriter and composer at its most focused and self-assured. A gargantuan endeavour and one that Ihsahn professes to be one of the most complex projects he has ever undertaken, is a labyrinthine rabbit-hole of his own design, the scale of ambition immediately apparent. Wholly self-produced and scored over the course of three years, the metal version has been mixed by Jens Bogren, the orchestral version mixed by Joel Dollié and both versions were mastered by Tony Lindgren. Ihsahn freely admits that the process pushed him to his limits. It began, simply, with a piano.

Comments Ihsahn: "On average, I've been releasing a full-length album every second year since I was 16. And, you know, that has given me some opportunity to explore different options, so for my eighth full-length solo record, I thought, 'Okay, how can I do what I do best, but also raise the bar tenfold? At the heart of what I do is black metal, extreme distorted guitars and screaming, but since the earliest EMPEROR recordings you'll hear the keyboard parts influenced by classic soundtracks by the likes of Jerry Goldsmith, John Williams, Bernard Herrmann, John Carpenter and so on. So, I approached the writing with the intent to present the material in its full-blown metal expression, but also to arrange the orchestral parts in such a way that they would work independently. Somehow an attempt to write a soundtrack within the structures of the full production, allowing me to explore different, and sometimes contrasting, variations of essentially the same music. In the end I wrote all the music as a piano short-score and arranged it for a typical band ensemble and orchestra, accordingly, making sure everything interlocked."

It's that compositional core that allowed Ihsahn to build the two records from the ground up — a Herculean feat for the self-professed, self-taught musician, but it is perhaps that very absence of formal training that allowed him to throw out the rulebook and simply follow his instincts, and the time afforded by the pandemic created the natural gap required to so heavily invest himself in the project. As Ihsahn explains, that self-induced pressure came from a desire to keep his loyal fanbase and himself interested, which is not only the defining feature of his latest record, but it's also the central characteristic of his entire solo career.

"To create something worthwhile, you can't aim for what an audience might expect, but you can aim to make something the best that it can be," he says. "When given the opportunity to make a record, it'd be arrogant to assume it'd be another 'Dark Side Of The Moon' or 'OK Computer' or 'Black Album', but somehow it'd be arrogant not to try!?! Admittedly, this is the hardest and most complex musical project I have ever done, and in the end, on a personal level, also the most gratifying. I really had to step up, and I learned so much in the process."

"Ihsahn" track listing:

01. Cervus Venator
02. The Promethean Spark
03. Pilgrimage To Oblivion
04. Twice Born
05. A Taste Of The Ambrosia
06. Anima Extraneae
07. Blood Trails To Love
08. Hubris And Blue Devils
09. The Distance Between Us
10. At The Heart Of All Things Broken
11. Sonata Profana

And from the orchestral grandiosity of opening track "Cervus Venator" — whichever side of "Ihsahn" you choose to sit down with first — the epic, soundtrack qualities and richly hewn textures of Ihsahn are immediately apparent. It is a masterwork by any standard, and the definitive expression of Ihsahn's boundless capabilities as an artist. It's a journey he's eager for his dedicated fans to connect with.

Joining Ihsahn on this album are Tobias Ørnes Andersen and Tobias Solbakk on drums and percussion, with Ihsahn's son Angell Solberg Tveitan adding additional percussion and violins by Chris Baum. Artwork for the album was created by Ritxi Ostariz, with all promotional photography by Andy Ford.

Not satisfied to only create a dual-record, there is also a conceptual story which underpins both sides of "Ihsahn" — a pair of separate but interwoven Wagnerian narratives revolving around the traditional hero's journey, and while Ihsahn is reticent to tell all, he is confident that meaning will soon emerge for listeners willing to show equal commitment.

"I've been honored to work with some astounding visual artists on this, who were all given access to my scrapbooks, music, lyrics, stories, mood boards, etc." he says. "It's been amazing to see how they've all interpreted the material differently, but still in a way that binds everything together.

"It's a privilege that I get to make music and travel the world to play my music. And when I say this is subjectively my greatest musical achievement so far, it has nothing to do with ego or prestige, but rather to do with gratitude for the experience. Art taps into the metaphysical and the archetypes of our existence — it lets us experience loss, death, love; it prepares us for all of those things in some way. That's the value, that's the perspective I wish to create from.”

"Ihsahn Orchestral" track listing

01. Cervus Venator Orchestral
02. The Promethean Spark Orchestral
03. Pilgrimage To Oblivion Orchestral
04. Twice Born Orchestral
05. A Taste Of The Ambrosia Orchestral
06. Anima Extraneae Orchestral
07. Blood Trails To Love Orchestral
08. Hubris And Blue Devils Orchestral
09. The Distance Between Us Orchestral
10. At The Heart Of All Things Broken Orchestral
11. Sonata Profana Orchestral

Photo credit: Andy Ford

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