This final Arsies battle is a classic case of two artists who have previous come perilously close to winning it all. And one of these great contenders will have to have their almost-but-not-quite streak continue unabated. Them's the breaks. And while both these albums are strange beasts, rare in their fulfillment of my eternal desire for metal artists to push their own boundaries, I have to find a way to pick one over the other.
Do I go for the predictable but consistent option, penalizing uneven experimentalism? Or do I reward the more avant-garde choice, turning my back on meat-and-potatoes metal? I've literally already changed my mind twices while writing this.
What it comes down to, between these two most excellent albums, is any hint of a misstep. With the Anciients, the weak link is Descending, a harmless 3-minute instrumental interlude that's arguably filler. Not too bad. With the Ihsahn, however, it's Til Tor Ulven (Søppensolen), a truly indulgent 9-minute tone poem (or rather, poetry set to tones). There is so much to commend Ihsahn for on Arktis, and if you haven't listened to it by now, you should do that today. Me, I'm going to listen to Voice Of The Void for the rest of the day. Anciients win the Arsies!