Set upon the branches and framework of a classically inspired composition, “After” is a progressive black jazz metal odyssey. This is the only way to describe Ihsahn’s final opus of his planned musical trilogy. The mastermind of legendary Norwegian black metal band Emperor takes us on a trip we never expected or planned to take. With progressive guitar riffs and black metal vocal stylings, Ihsahn weaves a tapestry of unforeseen dimensions and depth by taking those traditional metal elements and interweaving them with a classically trained structure and intersperses it with the free form jazz elements of saxophonist Jurgen Munkeby.
“After” opens with the progressive metal guitar riff of “The Barren Lands” which eventually gives way to black metal vocals and lyrics that twists into an Opeth-like chorus and bridge. “A Grave Inversed” opens with a black metal bombardment that quickly breaks down into a chaotic free jazz saxophone accompaniment with progressive guitar-laden movements. Dramatic harmonies, soulful yet guttural vocals, foreboding guitar riffs, classical movements – the epitome of these aspects are shown in the two epics, “Undercurrent” and the closing “On the Shores.” Both masterpieces create emotional transitions from melancholy to rage to hopelessness to desperation by their use of complex movements of pounding drums, harsh vocals, and screeching guitars to haunting saxophone melodies, gentle vocals, and smooth guitar melodies.
Each track is produced and composed to the finest of detail which unlocks the beautiful genius of each individual track and overall composition. “After” is an awe-inspiring amalgamation of progressive black metal infused with free jazz that pushes the traditional boundaries and genres of heavy metal music that will inspire a new generation of musical artists.