Pilgrimage to Oblivion

Ihsahn backstory

As a founding member of Emperor, Ihsahn brought cinematic grandeur to black metal and helped the genre to break free of its more primitive confines. The Norwegians dissolved as a recording act in 2001, following the release of Prometheus: The Discipline of Fire & Demise, but the vocalist/guitarist emerged five years later with his first solo album, The Adversary.

Ihsahn has released a further six albums under his name, pushing the boundaries of extreme metal, embracing prog rock, experimenting with new sonic architectures and collaborating with the likes of Devin Townsend, Mikael Åkerfeldt and Leprous.

Pilgrimage to Oblivion is the first taste of a new, self-titled record, which will comprise two interlinked versions of the same album: a prog metal opus and its fully symphonic twin.

Ihsahn wrote all the music as a piano short-score and then arranged it for a band ensemble and orchestra.

He claims it’s the hardest and most complex musical project he has ever done.

That’s certainly saying something…

In Ihsahn’s own words

 “Pilgrimage to Oblivion serves as a rather immediate introduction to the overarching musical and conceptual aspects of the album.

“The lyrics go directly into the storyline and the video is the first in a sequel of videos portraying the whole story.”

The verdict on Pilgrimage to Oblivion

As the Wagnerian intro to the ‘metal’ Pilgrimage to Oblivion flings you into a jarring, violent maelstrom, Ihsahn’s unique gifts as a composer are revealed yet again. The orchestral flourishes, that underlying menace, the shock and awe dynamics… they make for a thrilling soundtrack. By the track’s end, you’re mentally drained, yet begging for more.

The symphonic version will entrap you in similar fashion to its metallic brethren, but there’s a little more dark magic swirling around as the track moves from spectral flurries to dramatic bombast.

Ihsahn has no doubt put every part of his being into this work.

And the results are sensational.

What’s next for Ihsahn?

Ihsahn will released on February 16 next year on Candlelight Records.

He’ll be appearing alongside the likes of Primordial, Aura Noir and Tribulation at London’s Celestial Darkness Festival, which runs from March 1-3 2024.

Photo by Andy Ford.