BY Laura TaylorPublished Jan 25, 2010

Despite all the intricate arrangements and complicated shifts, Ihsahn's (ex-Emperor) After is a sparse record. It's the kind of sparseness the song titles describe: "The Barren Lands," "Frozen Lakes on Mars," "On the Shores." The spaces are empty so the music can flow. And flow it does ― even its visceral harshness eases into the overall vibe and laidback prog that oozes throughout the album. The balance shifts now and then so that sometimes After sounds like jazz-filtered through '70s prog and black metal ― the prominent sax lines go a long way down this path. At other moments I could swear I'd been dropped into an Alice in Chains jam session for a taste of moody grunge. The constant interchange of textures and tempos, rhythms and patterns make for a busy and eerie record. The third in Ihsahn's musical trilogy and the one I most want to hear again.

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