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How Ihsahn is evolving metal

With the success of Emperor in the 90s, Ihsahn changed metal forever. Now celebrating 10 years exploring new identities as a solo artist, we look back at the evolution of a pioneer

"During those early teenage years we were all looking really deep, all of us in the black metal scene, to find that coldness and that so-called evil and the strength of not caring. We searched for that and that was the ideal. I had a very thorough look and, to my disappointment at the time, it wasn’t there. But there’s a different side to those ideas that I still stand by and that I find far more interesting...”

There was always something different about Ihsahn. Even at the height of the mid-90s black metal explosion, when one of the genre’s more notable failings was a collective tendency to overegg the Satanic, nihilistic pudding, the then-Emperor frontman seemed to stand apart from his peers, keeping his artistic countenance by focusing almost exclusively on the gradual but grand development of his band’s music. Emperor shared the Norwegian shadows with many other great bands, but somehow Ihsahn’s quiet, creative stoicism helped to elevate them to the highest of underground pedestals. By the time they released their final album – Prometheus: The Discipline Of Fire And Demise – in 2001, Ihsahn had become Emperor’s sole composer and the music they were making was simply on a different level to everyone else’s efforts.


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