Here are Ihsahn's 10 favorite non-metal artists.

Even early on in the musician's career with black metal icons Emperor, Ihsahn demonstrated an attraction to music outside of the ironclad confines of heavy music. Those chilling keyboards and winding arrangements demonstrated a knack for composition far beyond what most of his peers had achieved during that era.

As a solo artist, Ihsahn has continued to challenge himself and work outside of his comfort zone for nearly two decades.

So, we invited him to open up about his biggest influences outside of metal (and rock), especially as it relates to his new self-titled record and its symphonic variant companion.

What You Should Know About Ihsahn

From: Norway

First Album: The Adversary (2006 - solo)

New Album: Ihsahn

This self-titled record is Ihsahn's first in six years, the longest gap in his recording career.

“On average, I've been releasing a full-length album every second year since I was 16. And, you know, that has given me some opportunity to explore different options," he assesses, "So for my eighth full-length solo record, I thought, ‘Okay, how can I do what I do best, but also raise the bar tenfold?"

And raise the bar, he did. Ihsahn will be released as two versions — one metal and one symphonic, both "melodically interlinked."

"At the heart of what I do is black metal, extreme distorted guitars and screaming, but since the earliest Emperor recordings you’ll hear the keyboard parts influenced by classic soundtracks by the likes of Jerry Goldsmith, John Williams, Bernard Herrmann, John Carpenter and so on," Ihsahn continues, "So, I approached the writing with the intent to present the material in its full-blown metal expression, but also to arrange the orchestral parts in such a way that they would work independently."

Ihsahn, "The Distance Between Us" Music Video

READ MORE: Emperor Legend Ihsahn Plays His Favorite Riffs

"Somehow an attempt to write a soundtrack within the structures of the full production, allowing me to explore different," he adds, "and sometimes contrasting, variations of essentially the same music. In the end I wrote all the music as a piano short-score and arranged it for a typical band ensemble and orchestra, accordingly, making sure everything interlocked.”

Ihsahn is out Feb. 16 on Candlelight.

View Ihsahn's favorite non-metal artists directly below.


Emperor legend and solo artist Ihsahn standing in a side profile wearing a suit jacket
Andy Ford
  • Scott Walker

    His later work took a deep dive into the avant-garde, still guided by the unmistakeable baritone voice.

    However, it is his early solo records I return to for that wonderful blend of band, experimental and sometimes dissonant orchestration and that crooner voice painting cinematic scenes with dark and melancholic lyrics.

  • Diamanda Galas

    Awe-inspiring and frightening. None other can conjure up such dark and overpowering atmospheres with a voice.

    What the rest of us try to express through blast beats, guitars and orchestras, she executes with screams alone.

    Whether through the frantic and schizophrenic rants of Litanies of Satan and Plague Mass, or through classics such as "I Put a Spell on You" or "Gloomy Sunday", her expression is always pure, unfiltered and captivating.

  • Radiohead

    After releasing OK Computer, arguably the best indie rock album of all time, Radiohead turned around and went electronic for Kid A and Amnesiac.

    Utterly original, ever changing, but always sounding like and being Radiohead. Integrity!

  • Jerry Goldsmith

    A genre-defining composer with an incredible list of movies he's scored — Alien, Basic Instinct and Star Trek.

    The Omen remains one of my all-time favorite soundtracks.

  • Bernard Hermann

    We all probably know him best for his amazing work with Alfred Hitchcock, or perhaps from the whistling re-introduction by Quentin Tarrantino. But then you compare this to Taxi Driver and it becomes evident that he too had an extensive musical range and imagination.

    Also, such precision…even in the shortest of motives.

  • A-Ha

    Norwegian pop pioneers with amazing songwriting capabilities, from a time when pop music craftsmanship extended beyond an eight-bar loop.

    They defied the Norwegian "tall poppy syndrome" and conquered the world!

  • Come Shine

    Another Norwegian trio, this time of the jazzy kind.

    I keep coming back to their live album with The Norwegian Radio Orchestra. It's full of old jazz classics, arranged with such variety and richness and stellar performances.

  • Portishead

    Sampled, looped and twisted, yet so immensely crusty and organic.

    Trip-hop/jazz vibes with Beth Gibbons' vocals pulling you into a film noir-esque melancholic nightmare. Unique.

  • J.S. Bach

    J.S. Bach's genius goes without saying, but the massive body of work and being so profoundly ahead of his time too, pushing the envelope of harmony and composition.


  • Arvo Pärt

    This Estonian composer is just in a league of his own. His tintinnabuli compositions range from whispering piano to choir, orchestra and soloist virtuosity.

    It is like listening to music of an elevated dimension.

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