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Ihsahn - "Das Seelenbrechen" (CD)

Ihsahn - "Das Seelenbrechen" CD cover image

"Das Seelenbrechen" track listing:

1. Hiber
2. Regen
3. NaCl
4. Pulse
5. Tacit 2
6. Tacit
7. Rec
8. M
9. Sub Alter
10. See

Reviewed by on October 3, 2013

"The man behind the music has made it clear in interviews that 'Das Seelenbrechen' is a side-trek to explore different musical territory and not a sign of things to come, which is a good thing, as the album is a convoluted mess."

At this point fans of Ihsahn should be pretty used to the weirder and more avant-garde aspects of metal (just listen to any given Peccatum track), but his latest solo album is a real curveball, even by the already odd standard set by previous releases. The man behind the music has made it clear in interviews that “Das Seelenbrechen” is a side-trek to explore different musical territory and not a sign of things to come, which is a good thing, because the album is a convoluted mess.

The first track “Hilber” might give the impression this is still typical Ihsahn, just with a few changes in stylistic direction, but it becomes clear that’s not the case as the disc progress through “Regen, “NaCL,” and “Pulse.” Significant portions of the first few songs are much more low key and softer than you’d expect, somewhat along the lines of Tesseract.

While those early songs all have their moments worth hearing, the album officially tanks with “Tacit 2.” It’s less a song and more a free form experiment in drum beats. As a brief interlude it could have worked, but as the minutes drag on the non-stop schizoid drums continue to grate, and the track becomes unlistenable.

The first half of “M” is essentially a spoken word poem, but then it switches into a psychedelic jam with an old school rock feel. “Sub Ater” on the other hand is an atmospheric experience all the way through that starts out interesting, but becomes overly repetitive by the end. The album terminates on a low note with “See,” which consists of rising and falling buzzing sounds, guitar feedback, and random drum taps. While definitely experimental, it’s essentially the auditory equivalent of a flashing light Pokemon seizure, and isn’t particularly enjoyable to hear.

It’s clear why these songs didn’t make it onto the “A” trilogy of Ihsahn albums, as they are a completely different style. That style also changes on each track, as “Das Seelenbrechen” is essentially a collection of individual songs that all have their own identity, and not a cohesive unit bound together as an album. Hardcore fans may want to check it out for the two or possibly three songs legitimately worth hearing, but as a whole the album is an unsatisfying experience. Thankfully it’s essentially just a side project and not an indicator of how future albums will unfold.

Highs: "Hilber" has some classic Ihsahn material and a few of the opening tracks have an interesting Tesseract feel.

Lows: None of the songs are connected to each other, and tracks like "Tacit 2" or "See" are aggressively annoying to hear.

Bottom line: Ihsahn goes experimental and freeform, and while some of it works, much of the album tragically isn't worth hearing.

Rated 2 out of 5 skulls
2 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)