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Singers who record as solo artists are a rarity in black metal. As a rule, black metal vocalists who leave a band either join another band or form a new band but don't start recording under their own names or marketing themselves as solo artists. Ihsahn, however, is an exception to that rule, and marketing himself as a solo artist makes a lot of sense because the name Ihsahn carries considerable weight in black metal circles thanks to his contributions to Emperor. Ihsahn's second solo album, Angl, maintains the symphonic black metal orientation that the Norwegian vocalist favored on his previous solo outing, The Adversary, and while black metal is Angl's main ingredient, there are certainly many other influences as well. Among them: power metal, progressive metal, death metal, and gothic metal. Angl is very focused, but at the same time, Ihsahn is even more unpredictable and far-reaching on this 47-minute CD than he was on The Adversary. He is also decidedly melodic, achieving a healthy balance of heaviness and musicality. Angl is about forcefulness, intensity, and aggression, but it is also about musicality, songcraft, nuance, and intricacy; in other words, all of the things one expects from symphonic black metal. Some black metal purists will no doubt insist that Angl isn't a legitimate black metal release because it doesn't sound like Gorgoroth or Marduk (just to give two examples of Nordic black metal bands that love going for the jugular). But then, Ihsahn never claimed to be a purist, and this album is strictly for those who like their black metal with a great deal of melody. Angl is an excellent follow-up to The Adversary and is even a bit stronger than its predecessor.

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