10th March 2015 - Nuclear Blast Records
01. Thurisaz Dreaming
02. Building With Fire
03. One Thousand Years Of Rain
04. Nauthir Bleeding
05. In Times
Any band who wanted to survive the Norwegian black metal scene of the 90s had to do something special; they had to change, or find a way to otherwise separate themselves from the infamous scene. Darkthrone were successful, as were Arcturus and Emperor (sort of) and Immortal, however one band not only survived but thrived: the mighty Enslaved.
They may have been late-comers to the circle, but they were ultimately an important part of it – but after releasing their split with Emperor they have more or less completely abandoned black metal in their quest to become one of the best metal bands on the planet. 24 years later, they are to release their In Times, their monumental thirteenth album.
The way Enslaved make music these days seems to very much a reflection of the human spirit and the emotions and actions pertaining to it. While 2010’s Axioma Ethica Odini felt like a journey of a man trying to discover his place in the world, 2012’s RIITTIIR felt like the opposite; it was a much more internalized spiritual conflict. In Times feels like some kind of middle ground between the two, perhaps detailing the external reflections of those internal struggles.
Their songwriting approach seems to be morphing in tandem with this. There were a few albums where it was more riff-based, but they seem to be more and more into chord progressions and simpler riffs with leads over them. It’s a style that really suits them.
This may be the band’s best work vocal-wise: Grutle’s growls are utterly vicious, and blood-curdlingly brutal, whilst the cleans, delivered courtesy of both Grutle and keyboardist Herbrand Larsen, are beautiful; at times wispy and ghostly, and in other moments earnest and emotive. “Building With Fire” features a clean verse leading into the a growled one, both perfectly contrasting one other. At times they layer them with excellent results, such as in the final moments of “Daylight”, which creates a sense of vastness and involvement. It’s a very nice way to close the album.
In Times is beautifully crafted. Even in their rougher black metal days, Enslaved always managed to maintain a very clear and concise mix, forever to their benefit, and it has only improved over time. The bass guitar stands out notably, and sits as a solid base for the guitars and occasional keyboards to thrive off. The guitars, especially, seem to have a shimmering quality to them, and the lead tone on Ivar Bjornson’s solos sparkles.
Speaking of the guitars, the duo of Ivar and Arve Isdal are at it again, conjuring up mighty riffage, towering chord progressions, and flowing guitar leads like nobody’s business. The solo in “Daylight” is quite memorable, and that song itself is perhaps one of the best on the album. The riff that comes in partway through after a more relaxed passage is tense, dark, and heavy.
There is no stopping this band. In Times shows Enslaved once again making incredible music, standing about on par with the fabulous RIITIIR, but a little more progressive even. In Times pushes boundaries and it perhaps takes a couple of extra listens to truly grasp, but that final dropping of the penny is worth it.
Best songs: “Daylight” “Thurisaz Dreaming” “Building With Fire”