Ihsahn’s EP was a great Valentine’s Day gift (February 14, 2020; Candlelight Records)

This one almost slipped past the Klown. The name should be familiar to you all by now. The man is a living black metal legend who founded a band of a royal title. If that flew past you, just remember that COVID ruined Emperor’s stateside reunion this year. No matter what your feelings are on Ihsahn, the man never ceases to amaze fans. Two years after Ámr, he released Telemark EP and features Ihsahn singing his original songs in Norwegian. The Klown doesn’t do skiing and thought that was an interesting choice for an album name. 

The EP starts off with “Stridig” which sounded like something that may have been leftover from the Ámr album. “Nord” picks up the pace and it’s instrumental and upbeat. While “Telemark” sounds like something his fellow compatriots, Enslaved, would have produced. This album surprises the Klown when he covers Lenny Kravitz’s “Rock And Roll Is Dead” and Iron Maiden’s “Wrathchild.” Adding his personal touch to the songs. Kravitz’s song had some jazz infusion and gave it a bit of an ironic touch with said musical element. Maiden’s cover, on the other hand, sounded much better the way it was executed, and composed giving the song a new lease on life. Definitely check this album out here especially if you are a big Ihsahn fan or love proggy black metal. 

5 out of 6, “I was born into a scene of angriness and greed, and dominance and persecution.”

Ozzy Osbourne Produces Extraordinary New Album (February 21, 2020; Epic Records)

Lately when you see anything with Ozzy on a header it seems to be a health scare, stories of a rumored demise, Sharon, or alleged accounts of how the legend’s lifestyle has caught up to him. With all that noted, it didn’t necessarily surprise the Klown when he heard Ordinary Man and the overall theme of the album. We all got a firsthand exposure of this album in December, late-November with “Under the Graveyard.” Plain and simply, it was a good album but felt morose. 

It also had guest vocalists such as the legendary Sir Elton John for “Ordinary Man.” Then Post Malone in “It’s A Raid” which was fast paced and sounded more like an alternative rock song than hard rock. The biggest surprise was Post Malone and Travis Scott’s collaboration in “Take What You Want.” The track shows off Ozzy diving into Hip Hop and he sounded like a natural at it! The Klown was taken a little aback by it but really enjoyed the closer. If this album is truly the swansong of the legendary rocker then it is one hell of a way to close his discographic chapter. If it isn’t, the Klown wouldn’t be surprised if he’d jump on board the hip hop express to add another feather on his cap. You can stream and purchase the record here!

5 out of 6, “I never needed anything from you, And all I ever asked was for the truth”

Body Count Slays Again (March 6, 2020; Century Media Records)

If there’s anything that today’s political climate has inspired is music, it has become more outspoken and aggressive but none more than Tracy “Ice T” Marrow’s Body Count. Who better to tell it to you straight than Ice? The man has almost seen and done it all. The latest installment, Carnivore, definitely will get you more woke than before especially given the series of events that have transpired after its release. The awesome thing about this album is not only the guest vocalists featured but also the cover songs. 

“Point the Finger” features Power Trip’s late vocalist Riley Gale adding an extra oomph that the album didn’t know was missing. The Klown presumes that this might be Gale’s final recording and contribution to our genre. Ever wondered what Hatebreed would sound like with Ice as the main vox and Jamey Jasta as a backing vox? “Another Level” makes you wonder no more. Amy Lee of Evanescence lends her vocals for “When I’m Gone,” a song that starts off with Ice T dedicating and crediting the inspiration of this track to the late rapper Ermias “Nipsey Hussle” Asghedom. The track Body Count covered this time was St. Lemmy’s grand opus, “Ace of Spades.” Lastly, if you grew up listening to or still listen to 90’s rap, Ice covers, updates and adds a metal touch to “Colors” and “6 ‘N tha Mornin’.” This album was not only great but it was chock-full of surprises and does justice to those the album was dedicated to and contributed to. You can stream and purchase the record here!

6 out of 6, “Eyes meet, both on their feet. They open fire before he can speak”

Myrkur Soothes the Masses (March 20, 2020, Relapse Records)

Since the introductory self-titled EP, Amalie Bruun has defied the so-called norms of what black metal should traditionally be. If you have seen her live, she doesn’t wear corpse paint, dons leather apparel, or wears spiked/nailed Hargreaves or even drinks and spits out blood. While Bruun does occasionally wail and scream, her weapon of choice is her clean vocals and her instrumental prowess. Folksange, still defies the black metal norms and features Bruun showing off her soothing clean vocals and takes a folk approach.

 From the moment “Ella” begins, the vocalist sets the tone for the whole album. This installment  was all clean vocals, violins, piano and traditional folk instruments such as the nyckelharpa, lyre and frame drums. “Vinter,” the final track of this album, makes you think you’re experiencing some sort of serene winter wonderland complete with choir chorus. It was a good album for the open minded and for those who legitimately love folk music. Furthermore, it shows you how black metal has changed in the last decade from raw and nearly unedited to massively refined, acoustic, and traditional. Don’t believe the Klown? Check out Wardruna for another near identical take. You can check out this album on your streaming service of choice or buy it here.

6 out of 6 “Stolt som en ulv. Og en kriger indeni. Vis som en vølv. Sandhedssiger sæt os fri”