Ihsahn – Fascination Street Sessions (EP Review)

Ihsahn – Fascination Street Sessions
Released: March 24, 2023

Line Up:

Ihsahn // Vocals/Guitars/Bass
Øystein Aadland // Vocals/Keyboards
Tobias Ørnes Andersen // Drums



With the creation and consumption of music an ever-evolving beast, Norwegian vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Ihsahn’s new EP Fascination Street Studios has been birthed in a slight left-of-centre way. Working directly with the URM Academy, the entire recording process of the three-track release was filmed and analysed, giving fans unprecedented insight into the creative process. Being the brains behind progressive black metal giants Emperor, over the last decade and a half Ihsahn has also branched out into his own solo realm, freeing himself from the shackles of the extreme metal world and creating more experimental music. Fascination Street Sessions contains three new Ihsahn cuts, two hard rock-leaning originals and a left-of-centre cover of Swedish group KENT.

Opener ‘The Observer’ has keyboardist Øystein Aadland take over the lead vocal role, with his Michael Akerfeldt-esque cleans giving the song a classic progressive rock vibe. Dynamic flourishes, Eastern riffs and tasteful solos populate the track, with Ihsahn’s harsh vocals cropping up in the bridge section. ‘Contorted Monuments’ is a more uptempo, almost rocking number. Lightly distorted guitars with prominent organ gives it a more natural feel, however Ihsahn keeps it heavy with screams and a tense atmosphere. A fantastic tune, it’s one of the most instantly accessible things he’s done to date.

Now, with an EP whose birth is centred around the music production and creation process, we have to speak about it’s production. No surprises; it’s fantastic. It’s a live-sounding release; organic drum tones, low-gain guitars, a lack of superfluous layers and overdubs. Closing number ‘Dom Andra’ (‘The Others’) is a cover of Swedish act KENT. Despite Ihsahn’s Norwegian heritage, the track is a very Swedish affair, with the addition of Jonas Renske of Katatonia handling the bulk of the singing. The song is nice enough and played quite close to the original composition – mid-00s styled alt rock – with Renske’s vocals and the additional instrumentation making it sound very Katatonia-like. Although ‘Dom Andra’ does sound out of place – with lighter poppier melodies – it highlights the diverse production on Fascination Street Sessions.

Fascination Street Sessions is a short effort, however like all of Ihashn’s music it has a lot to digest, and the two originals are the clear highlight here. It goes without saying the production from Jens Bogren and the Fascination Street Studio team is world class; real and warm, and the visual, educational component of the upcoming URM Academy sessions will be fascinating (pun intended). A diverse EP, Ihsahn’s Fascination Street Sessions is both quite accessible and something that fans of modern progressive music will be able to sink their teeth into.

Ihsahn – Fascination Street Sessions tracklisting

1. The Observer
2. Contorted Monument
3. Dom Andra

Rating: 7.5/10
Fascination Street Sessions is out March 24 on Candlelight Records. Order here
Review By – Andrew Kapper. Twitter: @andrew_kapper