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(24:30; Candlelight Records)
What we have here is the second of two linked EP’s, the first being ‘Telemark’, but while that was deliberately darker and heavier, here we find Ihsahn taking a quite different route. As with the other EP, this contains three originals and two covers, yet no-one would imagine a musician who formed the mighty Emperor at age 16 would show a love for A-Ha and Portishead! Recorded at his home studio, additional drums were provided by Tobias Solbakk, with Ihsahn providing everything else. He says that opener “Losing Altitude” is “a song about choices. What's worth holding onto and what's just weighing you down”, while “Spectre At The Feast”, is described as “a fly on the wall perspective on the somewhat superficial aspects of society and all its fictional problems and fragilities.” The title cut itself brings together the likes of Radiohead and Elbow, with wonderful clear vocals and is about “finding guidelines, direction, goals and hope. The potential of being a beacon; what and who will you attract to your shores.” The first cover, “Roads”, fits in very well with the rest of the EP, both sonically and musically with some nice orchestration, and unless one knew the source one would never imagine that the singer is the same person who delivered ‘Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk’. One can only imagine the shock of anyone not knowing his history looking into his back catalogue. This is music which would sit happily on the radio, and that is the case again with “Manhattan Skyline”. Here Ihsahn has handed the vocal duties over to Einar Solberg (Leprous), and there is no doubt that this is the highlight of the EP. The vocals are wonderful, almost operatic at times, while Ihsahn provides just enough crunch on the guitars to show what this could be turned into if played fully metallic while staying true to the original. This may not be what I would imagine when thinking of Ihsahn and is generally not a style of music I would play a great deal, but one must admit he has done a wonderful job here and given he no longer cares what anyone think of him, if he ever did, then mission accomplished.
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