Simen Hestnæs (born March 4, 1974, in Oslo, Norway), also known as I.C.S. Vortex, or just simply Vortex, is a Norwegian musician, best known as the current vocalist of the similar named band ICS Vortex, the avant-garde metal band Arcturus, the current vocalist and bass guitarist to the progressive black metal band Borknagar, vocalist in the doom metal band Lamented Souls and the former bass guitarist and backing vocalist for the Norwegian symphonic black metal band Dimmu Borgir.
His longest-running band is the doom metal band Lamented Souls, which began in 1991 and for which he plays guitar and handles the vocal duties. He actually started out as their drummer, but switched places with Ole Jørgen Moe when they became aware of his singing abilities. His moniker was a bit of a joke to poke fun at one of Garm's aliases, Fiery G. Maelstrom: "Icy S. Vortex", with the first words being opposite elements, the middle initial being the first letters of their common names, and the last word being a powerful circular current of water.
In 1995, he was on tour with the avant-garde metal band Ved Buens Ende and performed the supporting vocals. Songs from that tour were later released on ...Coiled in Obscurity bootleg album.
In 1997, Hestnæs made a guest appearance on the Arcturus album La Masquerade Infernale. He sang on three songs: "Master of Disguise", "The Chaos Path" (in which he handled all lead vocals, wrote the lyrics and co-composed this song), and "Painting My Horror".
In 1997, the folk/progressive/black metal band Borknagar was in need of a vocalist after the departure of original vocalist Garm. Garm introduced the band to Hestnæs, who became their vocalist from 1997-2000. He took over bass duties as well, recording bass for their fourth full-length Quintessence, after bass guitarist Kai K. Lie left the band.
In August 2000, Hestnæs left Borknagar to fully concentrate on Dimmu Borgir. According to an interview, Borknagar was set to tour Europe with Mayhem, about the same time he would be in the studio to record with Dimmu Borgir. Borknagar guitarist and frontman Øystein G. Brun gave Hestnæs an ultimatum: tour with Borknagar, or quit and deal with Dimmu Borgir. He opted for the latter, stating that he thought Dimmu Borgir would become a more successful band in the long term. Brun would later state that the decision was "business", and that he "had nothing against Dimmu Borgir", and he wished Hestnæs the best; Hestnæs then stated that had he not gotten the ultimatum, he would still be in Borknagar to this day.
Hestnæs first contributed on the recording of Spiritual Black Dimensions by adding a new vocal element: his own "clean" and "operatic" singing which added a new element to Dimmu Borgir as a band. Hestnæs stepped in as session bass guitarist when Nagash left the band to fully concentrate on The Kovenant; he was, until late August 2009, the permanent replacement on bass and a full member of Dimmu Borgir.
In 2005, Hestnæs became Arcturus' new singer following the departure of both Garm in 2003, and Spiral Architect's Øyvind Hægeland in 2005. Hægeland departed from the band due to the distance he lived from the other band members and Simen took over as lead vocalist for the band, making it the second band in which Simen would be the successor to Garm as vocalist. In September 2005, the band released their fourth full-length album, and first full-length without Garm on vocals, Sideshow Symphonies, which was met with varying acclaim. In 2005, Hestnæs was voted one of the top ten vocalists in Terrorizer Magazine and Arcturus was voted among the ten best live acts of 2005. Sideshow Symphonies was also ranked among the top ten albums of the year in the magazine.
In 2007, at a concert in Melbourne, Australia, Simen stated that the concert would be Arcturus' last show. On April 17, the band officially announced they had disbanded.
Most recently, Simen lent his voice to the animated television program, Metalocalypse, in the episode "Dethdoubles" as well as "Dethcarraldo."
According to a Myspace post (in late August 2009) by Mustis, the keyboardist of Dimmu Borgir, both he and Vortex have been fired from the band. Vortex later stated he will remember the days before the greed and music industry took over Dimmu Borgir. He also stated he has an interest in reviving "a band or three." He is currently scheduled to meet with Lamented Souls in mid-September about a new album.
In 2010 it was announced Simen would be returning to Borknagar as a live member on bass and vocals. Furthermore, Arcturus would be resurrected to headline the ProgPower USA festival in 2011.
He is married to Lise Myhre, a Norwegian artist and creator of the comic "Nemi", and they have a son, Storm, born 2007.
He is 6 ft 7 in (2.01 m) in height.
Simen released his first solo album in 2011, entitled Storm Seeker. The album features Asgeir Mickelson on drums (ex-Borknagar), and some guitar solos by Terje "Cyrus" Andersen. The live band will include Borknagar guitarist Jens F. Ryland, and Steinar Gundersen from Spiral Architect on bass.
After several months of rumours of ICS Vortex's involvement with Borknagar it was announced that he was to rejoin Borknagar full-time as a cooperative vocalist with Vintersorg as well as being the band's bass guitarist. 2011 also saw the revival of Arcturus, with Vortex once again assuming lead vocal duties.
Solo band members:
ICS Vortex - vocals, guitars (2011-present) (also bass and keyboards on 'Storm Seeker'),
Steinar Gundersen - bass (2011-present),
Baard Kolstad - drums (2012-present),
Petter Hallaråker - guitars (2012-present),
Asgeir Mickelson - drums (on 'Storm Seeker'),
Cyrus - guitars (on 'Storm Seeker'),
Jens F. Ryland - guitars (2011-2012),
Hallvard Eggestad - bass (tour 2012/2013/2014)
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