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Live Review: IHSAHN at Max Watts, Melbourne on 7/5/18

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Ihsahn is considered a legend and a household name amongst a plethora of wannabe’s in the extreme metal world. And our great southern land has finally seen the great man tour our shores for the first time ever at the start of May to do a full solo tour promoting and playing material from his stunning new album “Ámr”.

More on Ihsahn soon.

First band up was local black metal lads Mar Mortuum whom I only caught the last song of, but from what I heard it was your regular run of the mill black metal fare and seems a fitting choice for openers for the evening.

Second to hit the stage was the mind-blowingly incredible YLVA. I love getting to gigs early to see local bands whom I’ve never experienced before either live or sonically and being given a memorable show. YLVA were one such experience a wall of passion, noise and just sonic armageddon magnificence. The best way I can describe the enormity of YLVA’s sound is if you think of a bastard hybrid child of Crowbar and Isis and you’re in the ballpark. YLVA had a wall of equipment befitting their wall of beautiful noise. YLVA’s you blokes are amazing and thank you so much for an incredible live show.

Pre stage moisteners for Ihsahn were another local band of progressive type black metal in the form of Hybrid Nightmares. Another pretty good show from them and also the band fitting of warming up the evening for Ihsahn.

But let’s not kid ourselves, all supports acknowledged and given kudos for getting the opportunity to be given the privilege of getting such an illustrious chance to perform before the great man, Melbourne braved the appropriate cool evening to witness a metal milestone in our city. IHSAHN!

Playing to the only sold out show last for the entire tour last night at Max Watts in Melbourne, there was no way his adoring fans were going to be walking out tonight disappointed.

The first thing that struck me about pre-Ihsahn performance was the minimalist, sparse and considerable lack of equipment there was for Ihsahn and his bands need to deliver such an amazing show.

For the three previous supports, there was just a mass of musical gear taking up more space it seemed that the members themselves, some absolutely utilising and making full use of their expenditure, and others it seemed, having gear that they were and are struggling to get the full advantage and use out of!

Granted Ihsahn absolutely utilises backing tracks and samples to compliment his performances and he has the time and ability to spend considerable time doing so, but as an artist who has the ability to merely just let the art and music speak for itself as opposed to feeling the need to detract his fans from anything other than both his and his band members on stage presence. As I mentioned earlier this was Ihsahn’s first tour of Australia promoting solo album number seven, the incredibly diverse and near perfect Ámr, from which he opened the show with the first three songs from that album, “Lend me the Eyes of Millenia”, the first single “Arcana Imperii” and the absolutely stunning “Sámr”. It seemed fairly obvious that a fair proportion of the crowd was yet to hear Ihsahn’s latest album but the tracks were rapturously received without question. Preceding that we heard an array of material from his other six solo offerings a few highlights for me were the ones performed from his more purposefully obscure Das Seelenbrechen” album from 2013 those songs being “Hiber”, “Tacit” & Pulse”.

Having never been to Australia before, it was clearly obvious from his reaction and between song banter with tonight’s audience that Ihsahn was humbled by the adulation he was receiving from this fine Melbourne crowd. Just as we were truly honoured to have such a presence such as Ihsahn before us. From our vantage point, the overall performance was perfect, majestically projected and honourably received by us all.

The crowd faves were undoubtedly those from “Arktis”, being “Until I to Dissolve”, “Mass Darkness” and “My Heart is of the North” and “Frozen Lakes on Mars” from his “After” album.

But let’s face it, readers, although this was undoubtedly an Ihsahn solo show, for those who have been unlucky enough to not having witnessed an EMPEROR live experience, the price of admission alone would of been to hear just one Emperor song. And in Ihsahn’s own words when walking back out onto the stage in Melbourne for one final time, “Let’s finish this evening properly shall we!” and that he did to rapturous adulation with “I Am the Black Wizards” from Emperor’s 1994’s “In The Nightside Eclipse”. And THAT, readers, was the perfect end to our perfect first date with Ihsahn. Granted, yes it was a long time coming, but it was truly worth the wait.

Photography by Dylan Martin

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