I saw Enslaved annihilate at Bloodstock 2009 so I am quite excited to hear this.
Track one is called Thoughts Like Hammers and that is exactly the way to describe the first part of the track, an envelope of confused noise. The track eventually balances out to a steady beat with the distinctive vocal sound. At 2.08 some clean vocals and souring guitar tones add a nice contrast but I have yet to hear anything that gets me really excited. 4.20! That’s it! Fucking awesome, a haunting guitar sound with a fast double kick and a grating vocal sound. At 6.33 there is a quieter section with a classical guitar that morphs into the next heavier section which is quite nice. 8.11! that haunting driving force I love is back, love it.
Death in the Eyes of Dawn is the next track. This starts off with the usual theatre that you get from Enslaved, moments of elevated engrossing guitar to slower sections with more pronounced vocals. If I am honest in my mind I am just still waiting for the groovy fast parts though I am enjoying the clean vocal harmonies and key changes in the guitar. Aw that’s lovely 2.39 stunning clean vocals, really emotive, which also makes the unclean vocals even more prominent when they come back in. At 4.12 I am treated to a stunning solo with an awesome guitar tone, again really emotive. I love the guitars in the background at 5.15. Again the lovely clean vocal phrase near the end with the unclean coming through after, catchy.
Veilburner is next, the track starts off with the promise of a fast paced or groovy climax but I am left waiting a painfully long time! I hope it comes soon. Yes! 1.14 a groovy beat and vocal phrases drive the track forward to battle. At 1.44 the pace quickens to a riding beat with souring clean vocals. I love the mix of clean and unclean vocals at 2.55, this track is very atmospheric and emotive. The crescendos in the guitar at 5.54 is pretty cool and the last section of the track which has an interesting riff.
Roots of the Mountain kicks off fast and relentless with an interesting keyboard injection. Another souring clean vocal phrase. OOOOOOOOOO YES! I was not expecting that go back! A soft, I am guessing a flute? Sound on the keyboard and then BOOM charging in with unclean vocals, guitar an double kicks at 1.54. “WHERE WERE YOU?!” I can really feel the power in that question. A clean vocal section follows and then a fantastic, and just as emotive guitar solo with the drums and guitars still pounding away behind. The back to the driving force! FUCKING RIGHT. That guitar riff is quite catchy too, I love the force in this section 3.40 if I am honest I can’t hear what the fuck the guitars are doing there is just so much going on, but it sounds great! A slower section follows to some beautiful haunting chanting at 4.27, fantastic. 5.24 has an interesting almost middle eastern flavour to the guitar. Back to the pounding! 7 minutes in a beautiful classical guitar solo, again very haunting and emotive which is then engulfed in the drums and distorted guitar. FUCKING EPIC. Clean and grating vocals then come in over the top, I love this building of layers. Another really catchy tune to the vocal phrases too.
The title track RIITIIR now. This starts off in full force with interesting almost disjointed sounding riffs which sets me ill at ease. Soon the track settles down and the clean vocals come in, very haunting and full of menace, unlike previous tracks. The guitar phrase that keeps coming in reinforces something being not quite right. The track then picks up pace and the grating vocals pierce through. Back to the unsettling clean vocals again. 3.56! OH YES, awesome guitar solo., awesome yet weird. The last part of the track is insane, fast brutal and full of interest, a fitting title track.
Materal starts off with a quiet almost machine like noise and then the drums come in. Once the vocals and guitar come in I notice the echoing layers underneath. Wow I love that guitar tone! It reminds me or immortal, especially with the vocals which seems to have changed slightly or maybe it’s just me. They are more screamy but in a good way. Really loving this, I can hear more of an obvious raw black metal sound coming through. The clean vocals at 3.51 sounds quite strange in the way it echos the guitars. FUCKING ACE GUITAR TONE! Wow a solo kicks in at 4.35 and the tone is unreal. The section straight after at 5.16 is also quite groovy with a driving drum beat and sharp guitar chords in the background of chanting vocals which then morph into clean singing.
Storm of Memories starts off with ascending and decanting guitar riffs with a really distinctive bass line. More layers of guitars are added on top and what sounds like a sound sample as well or vocals recorded in a weird way. It makes me think a little of Death’s Cosmic Sea. Grating vocals eventually join in adding another layer of interest until the clean vocals take over and the track begins to change and become more haunting. 7.57! LOVE IT. Fucking ace guitar tone and fast pace.
Forsaken is the last track on the album. An eerie piano sound sets an uneasy atmosphere at beginning. FUCKING AWESOME! A minute in the screaming vocals, evil sounding riffs and groovy drums set a dark phase to the track. 1.41 is fucking beasting too. FAST, AGRESSIVE AND GROOVY what you want! At 3.50 there is an interesting keyboard sound playing with an eerie organ sound. Dracula meets SEGA. 5.76 is EPIC. The track eventually fades out with a lovely classical guitar duet.
This album makes you think about what is going on in the layers of the music and what the musicians were thinking when they wrote it. For me it was quite a serious album even when listening to the moments of elation in certain tracks. Very emotive with uplifting, aggressive and haunting moments. Defiantly a thinking album for me.
Alum Rating 9 out of 10
1. Thoughts Like Hammers
2. Death in the Eyes of Dawn
4. Roots of the Mountain
7. Storm of Memories
Band Line Up
Grutle Kjellson- Vocals, Bass
Ivar Bjorson- Guitar, Vocals
Arve “Ice Dale” Isdal- Guitar
Cato Bekkevold – Drums
Herbrand Larsen – Keyboards, Vocals