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In a much-maligned video interview for Scion, Hunter Hunt-Hendrix of Liturgy espoused the virtues of Emperor's 1997 album Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk. He said the album was "always at a climax," and despite Hunt-Hendrix's waffling opinion of metal as a genre, that observation holds true. In Emperor, Ihsahn wrote music in service of over-stimulation.

His solo albums have been more experimental and restrained. I think of Emperor as black metal's equivalent of prog pioneers Genesis, which makes Ihsahn our Peter Gabriel, and if that is so then Arktis, his upcoming sixth solo record, is his So. While far from his most conceptual work, and almost flamboyant to a fault, it's also the most satisfying release so far in his solo discography. Trouble is, if that's the case then "Mass Darkness," the first single from that album, is his "Sledgehammer," the kind of single that provides instant gratification which most songs lack.

"Pressure," then, is "Big Time." It's got as many hooks, but takes a little more brainpower to parse. In just under 40 seconds, the song progresses through three distinct musical segments without stopping, one prog, one black metal and one bright and catchy. All three elements exist in balance on Arktis.

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Arktis drops on April 15 via Candlelight/Spinefarm. Pre order it here. Follow Ihsahn on Facebook and on Twitter at @Ihsahn_official.

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