“Art can be created with those who strike us as having a deep inner self that is attuned to what is beautiful. They seem to have a “beautiful soul” that is orderly, respectable, and well-behaved.
However, these sorts do not produce “the mightiest effects of art, the crushing of souls, moving of stones and humanising of beasts.” Here lies the importance of the ugly artistic soul.” – Friedrich Nietzsche, Aphorism 152 from Human, All Too Human.
Sixteen months after Eremita, Ishahn provides us with another release. This time, the musician offers a “side-step” per his Metal Underground interview. To this point, each of his solo releases have introduced or presented different elements altogether. The Adversary offers his most straight forward Black Metal; angL approaches Black Metal with Opeth’s melodic grace; After pulls in a broader scope of instrumentation and emotion. Eremita was the most progressive of Ishahn’s efforts, combining all elements from the A trilogy.
Das Seelenbrechen focuses on organized chaos and mystery in ways that he has never attempted in his solo approaches. Thematically, his albums have all ways progressed from the end of the previous album; e.g.: The Adversary‘s questions were answered in earnest on angL whose questions were answered on After. Therefore, if Eremita is the follow up to After, Das Seelenbrechen should been expected to follow Eremita; however, it serves another answer to After and offers an entirely different perspective on the question presented at the end of After in my opinion.
Finally, before heading off into the music, let me first express this: to me, Ishahn is a singular talent in metal and music at large in that while his albums are always technically sound and enjoyable, they feel much less like art than they do philosophy. I feel like I’m listening to a philosophical discussion about the topics presented on his albums (which is why I intend on writing long form posts and deconstructions of his solo career going forward).
Fortunately, Das Seelenbrechen does not disappoint. Its first song thunders into the singer’s trademarked snarl: “At the verge of winter’s chasm…” The music is tense and foreboding, but never unsettling at this point as your ear can hold to the chiming synth above the churning guitars below. This attention to detail focuses the music going forward on the album. The album takes turns from stunning heights and hopefulness (!) into frozen valleys and pure despondency. With respect to MetalSucks here: they are right in that there are moments that will make you feel like “OMG” and others that will make you groan; moments that will cause clarity and others that will make you say “shit.” But, never in a bad way. Everything makes sense on this album. From the nearly saccharine synth’s in the middle of Regen to the alien, nearly mechanical, whispers of M and to the feedback on See.
Tacit 2 and Tacit are the most interesting, musically, songs on the album. The former has a skull rattling drum beat that is nearly impossible to follow and forms the core of the song that hits in all its improvisational nature as as a train wreck that has no explanation. It is this album’s unexpected thunderstorm. The latter explains what has happened and why Tacit 2 came to be, raggedly snarling: “Magnetic emptiness drew me into cathedrals of silence/ only to see them collapse and fall/ like promises on the frozen ground/ And as the dust settled/ My hands reached out to ash clouds and ruins/ eagerly, like onto strings/ to feel destruction and play the sound.” This desire expressed is reflected with: “The bitter sweet song of a poet’s lament/ that even his best are just feeble translations.”
If Nietzsche’s quote was the call to action for this album, then Ihsahn has met it. It is filled with an “ugly artistic soul” that wends and dances around the question of artistic interpretation of reality. It questions the very thing that the artist makes, and it better yet it does it well and in a way that will leave the listener raw, soothed, and contented in a catharsis only Black Metal can provide.