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Unearthing The Metal Underground: A Look Into Three Of Ihsahn's Side Projects

Each week with Unearthing the Metal Underground we take a look at three bands that haven’t had a chance to make as big an impact in the music scene as they should. Whether due to lack of label support, remote location, or just simple obscurity, there are many bands in the underground well worth the time of any serious metal fan.

Rather than looking at three bands in the same region or connected by a similar style, this week we’re delving into three groups that are all relatively unknown side projects of Norwegian prodigy Ihsahn. Probably best known for his work in black metal legion Emperor (which was covered as part of our “Black Metal History Month” at this location), Ihsahn has since headed out on his own to release three solo albums. But before the stage handle Ihsahn was a name known by itself, Vegard Sverre Tveitan was involved in many different projects ranging from freezing cold black metal to the entirely symphonic and even into more bizarre territory with sounds rarely, if ever, heard elsewhere.


After releasing his first solo album “The Adversary,” Ihsahn took a year off to work with other acts and continue to write new music. As black metal fans took in his new solo direction and decided if it stood up to the Emperor material, the musician looked to an entirely unexpected source for his latest collaboration. Teaming up with Norwegian hardingfiddle player Knut Buen, the Hardingrock project was born.

Heading in a vastly different direction than would be expected, Hardingrock’s only album “Grimen” (reviewed here) mixes fiddle heavy folk music, keyboards courtesy of Ihsahn’s wife, spoken word segments provided solely in the Nynorsk dialect, and yes, even some blistering black metal screams. If you are willing to try something vastly different than the standard fare, head over to the band’s MySpace page or checkout the songs “Fanitullen,” “Faens Marsj,” or “Daudingen” in the clips below.

Thou Shalt Suffer

Even before Emepror was in its infancy and the world hadn’t yet been torn to pieces by “Wrath of the Tyrant,” Ihsahn had his own black/death metal act, which went by various names. Eventually the entity became known as Thou Shalt Suffer, and in 1991 a demo was released with the typically black metal sounding title “Into the Woods of Belial.” Emperor fanatics should make a point of checking out the demo, as it shows where the music came from and gives people the opportunity to hear what Emperor could have been like with more death metal influences.

Thou Shalt Suffer remained quiet and appeared dead for years, until the full-length album “Somnium” finally saw the light of day in 2000. Completely dropping all the black or death metal elements, “Somnium” is a keyboard-only album that still has just as much atmosphere and menace as anything else heard from Ihsahn. You can listen to “Solum Tune Possum Vivere” off “Somnium” in the first clip below, or head into old school extreme metal territory with “I Seek the Path of Obscurity” in the second clip. If there was ever any doubt about the versatility or musical prowess of this particular black metal icon, Thou Shalt Suffer should sufficiently squash it.


One of the better known side projects for the front man was Peccatum, which was Ihsahn’s avant-garde outlet during the later Emperor years and before his solo career took off. The music takes twists and turns between extremely abrasive, symphonic, and just plain batshit crazy, which makes it a must for fans of Unexpect or similarly bizarre bands. Peccatum is now officially dead, but the band still has three full-lengths and two EPs for fans to work through, which offers a wide range of sounds that are tough to pin down. Below you can find a sampling of Peccatum’s music, including “Black Star” from the “Lost in Reverie” album, “And Pray For Me” off the debut “Strangling From Within,” an avant-garde cover of Judas Priest’s “Blood Red Skies,” and finally the official video for “The Moribund People.”

These are just three of the projects musical mastermind Ihsahn has been involved with, and certainly there are more quality acts he’s contributed to. Feel free to comment below about your favorite bands that have included Ihsahn, or any avant-garde underground metal acts. Be sure to check back next Monday as we continue to unearth more underground metal bands.

xFiruath's avatar

Ty Arthur splits his time between writing dark fiction, spreading the word about underground metal bands, and bringing you the latest gaming news. His sci-fi, grimdark fantasy, and horror novels can be found at Amazon.

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1 Comment on "Unearthing The Underground Ihsahn Side Projects"

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1. Cynic writes:

Wow I'd never heard the early Thou Shalt Suffer stuff, "Wrath of the Tyrant/Emperor" is probably my favourite Emperor release so I don't know why.

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