Ihsahn is now streaming what might be his heaviest offering yet, a single dubbed "Pilgrimage To Oblivion". Ihsahn holds nothing back throughout the track, which encompasses everything from looming orchestral arrangements to an eerie use of space.
The single comes alongside a video directed by Shaun Hodson of Loki Films. Ihsahn will release a new self-titled album on February 16 (his first in six years) alongside a second, entirely orchestral version of the same album.
"'Pilgrimage To Oblivion' serves as a rather immediate introduction to the overarching musical and conceptual aspects of the album," said Ihsahn. "The lyrics go directly into the storyline and the video is the first in a sequel of videos portraying the whole story.
"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."
As for the orchestral record, Ihsahn commented: "I've been honoured to work with some astounding visual artists on this, who were all given access to my scrapbooks, music, lyrics, stories, mood boards etc. 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."