Is there anyone out there that I have to introduce to them this band called ENSLAVED? If there is yet someone, please go and listen to “In Times” now. This or any of the latest albums of ENSLAVED. And I mean NOW!!! At last after a long time of wait the usurper of “RIITIIR” is out. Three years is really a long time, but this album was worth the wait.
As for the previous album of the quintet from Norway I am responsible for “In Times” as well. And it is really a hard work to do, because you must not just listen to their music. You must feel it. I am always trying to be honest with the music I listen to and with the criticism I make and I have to say that in the first listening I wasn’t thrilled. Then I listened to “In Times” over and over again and I discovered many great things. I am still discovering a lot of things, so it gets harder to write the review.
The album in its whole is a lesson in dark music. The vocals, to start with, are once more a dialogue between the growls of Grutle Kjellson and the clean melodies of Herbrand Larsen. Both of them are getting more mature after every album. It is absolutely pleasure to listen to them. This contradiction on vocals emphasizes the contrary feelings created by the music. Then of course the lyrics are very allegoric and mystical and that has always been like a trademark coating for ENSLAVED’s music.
The compositions are of the greatest quality. The structure of the songs is such that although you are listening to a 6 track album, it seems like you have listened to a lot more. The diversity of each song – regarding the speed, the riffing and even the feeling you get – is so large. It feels like the music of ENSLAVED have its own life. There are also many distinguishable guitar solos that could easily exist on any prog rock album. The influences from PINK FLOYD and progressive rock in general are clearly evident on “In Times”; especially on the last two songs.
I must not overlook the great contribute of Cato Bekkevold. This guy is the right man for ENSLAVED’s music. His drumming is always on top and perfect. And that’s enough said.
Again I must grant honorable mention to the production team, which includes three of ENSLAVED (Ivar, Grutle, Herbrand) and Iver Sandøy. Although this is extreme music, the production is crystal clean. Yet the one thing that blew me away is that additional experimentation and sonic exploration appearing on this album was conducted deep in the woods, where a mobile studio recorded additional sounds. That really adds a lot I the dark atmosphere of this album.
I could write a whole book about the music of ENSLAVED. And I have already written a lot. Just let the giants of extreme, dark and progressive metal dream and simply listen to their dreams…
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