The danger of reviewing a band that you like is that you’ll either be too harsh or too easy on them. I had my fears that this would be the case with the new Enslaved release, In Times. Gladly, I was wrong. Enslaved are one of the first Scandinavian bands to tease out what black metal is and start pulling it away from its core origin sound. Each album seems to have this in goal in mind and I love it. It keeps things interesting and redefines a genre which can and has some bands that use the “core black metal” sound to hide sloppy playing or poor production.
The new offering from the Norwegian lads really drives this goal home. Most of the tracks toy with the “traditional black metal” sound and then smash it open; only to rebuild with melodic breaks and soaring prog-metal codas. If you’re a fan of this, stop reading and buy the album.
If you need convincing, here we go. Track two, “Building With Fire” is my standout track. The nearly nine minute Odyssey runs the spectrum of Enslaved’s sound with a pumping melodic body to crushing blackened metal vocals. I love the clean vocals of the verse; it’s so different and let’s everything breathe. The melodic parts are shattered by the crescendo around the eight minute mark.
“Thurisaz Dreaming” is a “paint by the numbers” black metal song until the Enslaved stuff kicks in around the two minute mark and make this a wonderfully progressive track. Toying with offbeat patterns and blending their clean vocals with gloomy growls make this a fun little opener.
“One Thousand Years of Rain” is an example of my favourite kind of black metal: punk roots, gloomy and has technical flourishes here and there. With jumps back and forth between black metal and progressive metal, there is enough here to carry you through the run time. “In Times” is very similar in composition and style to “Rain”; but it has a beautifully mixed kick drum with I love so very much. These are a nice double feature to enjoy together.
“Daylight” is a nice bookend to the record. It is a literally counterpoint to the opener and plays around with various elements that are found within it while expanding them for a larger sound. The melodic breaks cannot be under appreciated; they make the blacked sections so impactful and violent.
The production is top notch and I enjoy the feel of the release. I have to talk about the run time; this could’ve been shorter. Look, eight minutes into an song you start to drift a little bit. However, the song length are only nearly excessive and the material seems to warrant eight to ten minutes even at its worst. Fair play, Enslaved.
Overall, there is a lot of fun to be had here. It is different enough to enjoy it and be unlike anything that has come before from them. If you’re a fan of Enslaved or of the very similar Opeth then this is a buy. If you like black metal then it’s worth giving a fair shot.
- Thurisaz Dreaming
- Building with Fire
- One Thousand Years of Rain
- Nauthir Bleeding
- In Times
Ivar Bjørnson – Effects, Guitars, Vocals (backing), Synthesizers
Arve Isdal – Guitars (lead)
Herbrand Larsen – Keyboards, Mellotron, Vocals
Grutle Kjellson – Bass, Vocals
Cato Bekkevold – Drums, Percussion
Enslaved “In Times” is out now via Nuclear Blast