Ihsahn decided on releasing two EPs versus one album. He split the tracks into two buckets: heavier and more melodic. The first EP was “Telemark” which was released earlier in the year. That was the heavy one. Now we have “Pharos” which is the more melodic one. Now this doesn’t mean each EP doesn’t have elements of both sides on each. Ihsahn isn’t that one dimensional. Rather, I would say “Telemark” sounds overall like he tends to sound, while “Pharos” is more of a leap.
And because of that leap, I think “Pharos” is one of the best things that Ihsahn has done. For those who just can’t handle harsh vocals or any sort of black metal, this EP is a great way to understand why Ihsahn is so great. All three original tracks are great SONGS. “Losing Altitude” starts off mellow before finding a cool groove midway through. And yes it also has a really cool, weird ass riff to keep things interesting.
“Spectre at the Feast” is ridiculously catchy, but still very much an Ihsahn song. I think his clean vocals are often passed over because of his great harsh vocals. This guy can fucking sing. This song proves it. The title track veers from ballad to…well it has this sway to it, and then it gets really gothic. There’s a lot to unpack on this song which is one of the things Ihsahn is good at. He can take you so many places and never lose you.
Just like “Telemark,” “Pharos” closes with two covers. The first cover is the Potishead track “Roads.” The cover is very true to the original which means it pushes Ihsahn into his upper register vocally. And he nails it! It’s a beautiful cover of a beautiful song. The other cover is even more interesting, a-ha’s “Manhattan Skyline.” For this one, Ihsahn taps out on vocals and brings in his good friend Einar Solberg of Leprous. Ihsahn is a massive a-ha fan as it turns out and he does a faithful version which songs incredible. It also closes out a perfect EP.
Those of you who prefer Ihsahn stick to his black metal roots might want to just revisit “Telemark.” But if you are like me, you enjoy when Ihsahn pushes the envelope. An EP like this might not seem edgy for the average prog musician to release but “Pharos” is a showcase of the creativity and genius of Ihsahn!
Release Date: 11 September 2020