Some may be surprised that IHSAHN is going on a longer European club tour again after a period of abstinence, wherein he was just playing a few selected festival dates. Well, he stated that he had almost lost the joy of touring in the past, but now he is again itching to perform with inspiring, talented musicians. And so the European gigs took place in smaller clubs throughout Europe, including the “Szene” in Vienna, which provides capacity of about 500 visitors. It was so good to see IHSAHN play directly for the fan base, being in the middle of the intimate atmosphere of small clubs, where he is directly confronted with the reactions of his fans.
But the openers were the Norwegian compatriots of ASTROSAUR, who had already presented their instrumental post-rock at the same venue a year earlier as support for LEPROUS. Guitarist Eirik Kråkenes was supposed to be seen again later as he also filled in the job of being Ihsahn’s guitarist.
ASTROSAUR started their half-hour performance with ‘Necronauts’ and ‘Space Mountain’, slightly longer prog/rock instrumental pieces that focus on spherical sounds and surprise with some wicked gimmicks now and then. Especially the two guitarists could score points in the following track, the very demanding Radiohead cover ‘Pyramid Song’. Ihsahn as a big Radiohead fan might have liked this. But Astrosaur introduced a new song as well. It does not have a title yet, but the attending visitors acknowledged it with lavish applause. Thus, one may call the performance quite successful and we wish the trio from Oslo that they will one day be headlining this stage.
NE OBLIVISCARIS seem to be an insider tip according to the amount of fans from all over Europe who came to see their show explicitely. The six-piece band from Melbourne plays progressive metal with crossover elements from different styles. Even a violin is used.
NE OBLIVISCARIS opened their gig with ‘Devour Me, Colossus (Part I): Blackholes’ from the album “Citadel”, a long piece that offers almost everything from varied, almost technical death metal parts to solid, melodic passages with violin backing. If you did not know the band, you only had the chance to let yourself drift and be surprised. The band catapulted their fans into a frenetic mood. Judging by the applause, one would think that this already had to be the headliner. The vocals are shared by violinist Tim Charles, who sings the clean parts, and by Xenoyr who roars the growls.
With three songs from their new album “Urn”, NE OBLIVISCARIS piled up the fire. The sprawling, massive neck breakers ‘Intra Venus’, ‘Libera (Part I): Saturnine Spheres’ and ‘Libera (Part II): As Embers In Our Eyes’ made everyone headbang, as the fat bass sound is humming neatly. Again and again violinist and singer Tim sweeped across the stage and heated up the mood. When they started their last song ‘And Plague Flowers The Kaleidoscope’ from their first album “Portal Of I”, it was hard to believe that they filled an hour of playing time with only 5 songs. Of course, so much diversion testified the qualities of the band and we hope that one or two festival organizers will take a closer look at these men.
At 10 p.m. the time for the evening’s highlight had come and the master entered the stage. IHSAHN had his second line-up of live musicians with him, because the first cast was actually completely prevented, be it for family reasons or because they are touring with their own bands. And at the vacant position as the second guitarist, Astrosaur member Eirik Kråkenes jumped in during this tour. The first guitar of course played IHSAHN himself…. Aristides quality!
After a short intro, the guys around the Emperor frontman started off with ‘Lend Me The Eyes Of Millennia’ and ‘Arcani Imperii’ from Ihsahn’s new album “ÁMR”. Undoubtedly, the focus of the evening was purely on the presentation of the songs, there were no tremendous show effects except for some kind of light show, of course. It was more that fans and artists were creating the show effects together when the mood stired up and the fans freaked out in the heat of the moments.
Of course, IHSAHN knows about his skills as a guitarist, thus he tinkered with tricky tracks from previous albums as well. So the neck breaker songs ‘Pressure’, ‘Hiber’, ‘Pulse’ and the fancy ‘Tacit 2’ were played in succession and the strings and fingers were glowing in the same way as the eyes of the enthusiastic fans. Especially in ‘Pulse’ Ihsahn created magic with some guitar gimmicks that just were beyond compare. Pure guitar sound in its finest sound form!
But also ballads found their way into the set list, above all of course the song ‘Sámr’, in which Ihsahn could score twice: with clean vocals, which he coped excellently, and with a thriving guitar solo that seeked his peers. It got a bit more difficult with ‘Celestial Violence ‘, which was actually written as a duet. The clean parts on the ‘Arktis’-album-version are sung by Einar Solberg. But since he was touring with his own outstanding band Leprous, IHSAHN changed the arrangement of the song and sang the cleans himself. You could notice that this was a special effort as the ballad contains some emotional, high-piched parts that require some skills, but IHSAHN was doing his best and could convince the fans with his interpretion. ‘Celestial Violence’ is the favorite song of so many fans, therefore this report is misused to say a Thank You to Ihsahn for maintaining it in the live sets.
At the end, the show lasted one and a half hours, and from all the albums the most iconic tracks such as the thrilling ‘The Paranoid’ were chosen to be performed live, including one of IHSAHN’s own favorite song ‘Until I Too Dissolve’. The applause and fan submissions did not abate, so there were three encores with ‘Frozen Lakes On Mars’, ‘A Grave Inversed’ and ‘The Grave’.
So to conclude, this tour was a good decision, proving that the significant icons of Metal persist, as long as they are serious about their music and the evolvement of their skills, and as long as they love what they do.
Author & Photo: Uta Arnold