Ihsahn: “I am not a very technical guitar player - progressive is more a mentality”

Ihsahn: “I have never tried to be progressive, as in being technical or difficult.”
(Image credit: Future / Marcus Robinson)

The act of songwriting is much like telling a story. When it works, the music alone can do much of the heavy lifting, creating atmospheres, building worlds and drawing the audience in.

That is how Ihsahn sees it now, seven albums and one EP into a solo career that has seen him pursue a progressive extreme metal sound that’s placed at a remove from the tempestuous, quasi-Wagnerian black metal he pioneered with Emperor. That is how he has seen it since the beginning, when, as a boy living on his parents’ farm near the Norwegian city of Notodden, he learned guitar by jamming along to Iron Maiden songs while playing bass on the pedals of his electric organ.

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Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to publications including Guitar World, MusicRadar and Total Guitar. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.