It’s been a while since we’ve have a good healthy dosage of metal infused prog. Thankfully Enslaved have just released their thirteenth studio album, In Times, to give us our fill. Read on for our review.
When you see that an album that lasts for about fifty minutes only has six songs, none of which fall under eight minutes in length, you know you’re in for a good time (that was beginning to sound like a math puzzle).
The bands ability to find the perfect balance between the brutal black metal and gentler progressive sections has always impressed me. In Times displays this balance almost immediately with opening track Thurisaz Dreaming. The near immediate black metal wave is met soon after by the lower intensity prog section. It is perhaps because of this that the listener really doesn’t notice the song lengths.
If we’re all being honest, how often do you look at the time remaining on a song to see how long it has left, only to see it floating around the half way mark, leading to a prompt “skip.” The changing elements of Enslaved’s music means you don’t have a chance to get bored. Sections don’t repeat too many times, and when they do it’s usually a really good section, so fuck it, repeat away.
Another huge bonus of their unique sound is that there is no ear drain. You don’t have a chance to get desensitized and zone out from hearing constant black metal or constant prog.
Enslaved are sometimes brushed aside by some people as they hear themes relating to mythology and brush them off as a goofy Viking metal band. In actual fact, Enslaved are probably one of the most “mature” bands who relate roughly to this kind of field. Take tracks like Building With Fire; the interchange between the clean vocals and growls, and brutal riffs and gentle chords, is along the same lines as “the thinking persons band” (is there anything worse in the world than bands being described this way?), Opeth. They already have the respect of the publications and the average progressive metal fan (or even just average metal fan). With In Times I can see the few stragglers finally getting on board.
One of my favourite elements of the album is the vocals, the cleans, the black metal, the death metal, and most enjoyable for me, the group vocals. I love when bands utilise the vocal skills of a band rather than just going for the “everyone shout and sound really, really angry” approach.
This isn’t to forget the riffs of course. For guitar players there are two types of riff. Good riffs and bad riffs. A good riff can be the easiest couple of chords in the world or an extraordinarily difficult run, all that matters though is that it’s good. Enslaved write good riffs. Tracks like One Thousand Years of Rain, Daylight and the title track will have players reaching for their guitars.
The overall sound of the album is quite close to RIITIIR, the bands previous offering, just a little more refined. It’s hard to say overall if it’s better than RIITIIR, but I tend to judge an album on its own merit than how it compares to the back catalogue so I’ll leave that for you to decide. However, if you like RIITIIR then there is no reason you shouldn’t be on your way to the record shop now (or, you know, Amazon. I don’t know about you but there isn’t a dedicated music shop anywhere near me, but that’s a different rant for a different article).
Some people claim that the number thirteen is unlucky, in the case of Enslaved however, it is most certainly lucky. In Times is fantastic, and if you haven’t had the chance to order it yet, I suggest you go and do it now.
In Times is out now via Nuclear Blast, follow the band on Facebook for more