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2013's Das Seelenbrechen is a bold and adventurous recording that is a musical contrast to the progressive shades and saxophone augmentations of the former Emperor vocalist/guitarist's previous two albums (2009's After and 2011's Eremita). The recording exists in an entirely unfamiliar sonic world as Ihsahn draws upon his most esoteric influences, fully embracing the spirit of the avant-garde. Comprising 10 vivid but disparate explorations in sound that range from bittersweet electronica to deranged and feral improvisation, Das Seelenbrechen is every bit as dark and destructive as the artist's previous work but is far more disorientating and disturbing than anything he has attempted in his past.
Recorded at his own studio in Norway in collaboration with drummer Tobias Ornes Anderson (Leprous), Das Seelenbrechen courageously eschews traditional metal instrumentation in favor of a limitless textural landscape that evokes the freewheeling spirit of artists like Diamanda Galas, Scott Walker, and John Zorn. Das Seelenbrechen takes its name from Nietzche's famed Human, All Too Human: A Book of Free Spirits.
Few artists in modern heavy music have created such an extraordinary and unique body of work as Ihsahn. Having refined and redefined black metal with the now legendary Emperor, Norway's foremost musical extremist has spent the last decade establishing himself as a fearless and wildly idiosyncratic solo artist. "Of all my albums, my goals for this one have been the most abstract," he explains. "I've had quite a rollercoaster ride putting it together but now that it is done I must say I am very pleased."