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WLM Reviews: Enslaved – E

October 7, 2017

Enslaved have been nothing if not consistent over the last 25+ years.  The quality of their work is unquestioned – a record that continues with their 14th full length album called E.Enslaved continues to become more and more progressive as the years pass.  They certainly maintain some pieces and parts of their Black Metal roots, namely the vocal delivery from Grutle Kjellson.  His guttural screams sometimes border on the absurd to me, but overall, he is effective.  I think the one member who holds all of the elements together is guitarist Ivar Bjørnson.  The overall direction of the band comes on the backs of these two men.

With E (Nuclear Blast Records), Enslaved puts on a display of how exactly they’ve made it to album 14, as well as why they are still considered one of the best extreme Metal bands in the world and so influential to many of their followers.  An album that features blast beats, vocal harmonies, signature Enslaved riffing, gut wrenching screams, and a saxophone, is difficult to pick apart, especially with just six songs that clock in at nearly 50 minutes.  Some of the tracks are so expansive and varied that I sometimes can’t remember if the song has changed or not.

There are many sections and passages that deserve attention.  Enslaved plays in odd time signatures as well as in more traditional straight forward times.  The riffing is always varied and designed to keep the listener on his or her toes.  Play after play  of E nearly ensures you will find something new each time, whether it’s a hidden rhythmic gem or some nuance that may have previously escaped.  This is not a simple album, nor one to be easily digested.

Sections that might make a listener grow weary when played by another band, come alive and produce an entrancing atmosphere that makes Enslaved so unique.  The inclusion of more clean vocals and even some 70s style organ playing make for a different sound that doesn’t sound forced.  The progressive things going on here aren’t always complex, but they are intriguing.  A sampling of the album will expose you to fantastic tracks like Feathers of Eolh (a wonderfully pulsing song) and Storm Son, though nothing here is lacking.  Sacred Horse also holds its own, while closer Hiindsight, as well as Feathers of Eolh, have the previously mentioned saxophone – much more obvious in the former track.

I have a feeling I am going to be hard pressed in a few months to make a final decision about E, but it is fantastic after only a short time with it.

Here is Storm Son:

I think what we have here is not a failure to communicate, but a potential album of the year.  I came into the album with high expectations, especially considering how much I enjoyed In Times, and I have not been disappointed in the least.  Enslaved deserves all the credit they get for their phenomenal career, yet still should get more.  I’m loving this one and you will to.

I hear the sound in a Metal way.

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