After back to back EPs, Ihsahn is back again…with another EP. This three song set is similar to the previous ones in that it has original songs and a cover track. “Fascination Street Sessions” stem from a collaboration with URM Academy who also filmed these sessions. It’s a study in music production, from demo to the final mix. An interesting idea for sure but I really just want good music. Producer Jens Bogren of Fascination Street Studios was the obvious choice to take part in these sessions since he is someone Ihsahn has worked with and a legend in the metal community.
The hard part here is that it’s a 3 song, 15 minute EP. After 2 EPs, I am ready for a full length. But that’s really my only criticism. The two original songs touch the two distinct sides of Ihsahn. The melodic and the harsh. “The Observer” opens the EP and represents the more melodic side of Ihsahn with the vocals provided by keyboardist Øystein Aadland, who has a GREAT voice. I really like Ihsahn’s clean vocals but I’ve read he has never liked his own clean vocals. This is why there are often guest vocalists. It’s a song that will please his more prog fans who might have issues with his black metal side.
The second track covers that area with Ihsahn using his patented wretched wail on the aptly titled “Contorted Moments.” While this is certainly not as bleak as Emperor, it would be at home on some of his earlier solo albums. Very solid track. The EP finishes with a cover of a song and band that I don’t know about. The song is called “Dom Andra” and it was done by the Swedish band Kent. Guest vocals are by Jonas Renske of Katatonia who does a great job as always. I love his voice so if Ihsahn was going to get a guest vocalist, this works well for me.
The production and mix by Bogren is flawless as usual. The instrumentation is all organic. They purposefully used vintage gear as part of this project and I love that as well. This brief EP is a nice return from a very talented musician. “Fascination Street Sessions” make for a nice introduction to the music of Ihsahn for those who have never heard him before. For those of us who have, it’s good to hear more music.
Release Date: 24 March 2023
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