Once the opening Mellotron strings of "Entroper" hits you, it's epic, melodic, and progressive Nordic black metal the rest of the way on the new album from Norway's Grammy Winning band Enslaved. Following in the footsteps of 2005's excellent Isa, RUUN has some large expectations to live up to, and the album does so in spades. In fact, RUUN is going to be hard for any symphonic black metal band to top this year, it's that damn good.
Enslaved have just grown so much as master craftsmen over the last few years, which is readily apparent on this new CD. Not that albums like Below the Lights, Monumension, Vikingligr Veldi, and Isa aren't great examples of symphonic Viking metal, but the growth of the band is just so evident here. The tortured rasps and melodic clean vocals mesh with the thunderous drums, raging guitar riffs, and orchestral keyboards on the majestic opener "Entroper", a song that perfectly sets the stage for the rapturous metal that is to follow. "Path to Vanir" is a crunchy rocker with plenty of pounding grooves, keyboards, and venemous vocals, while the band goes for the throat on the rampaging "Fusion of Sense and Earth", a traditional black metal styled scorcher with speedy rhythms and massive guitar riffs.
Prog rock fans will love the Middle Eastern tinged melodies that haunt the intro on the exquisite title track, complete with soaring clean vocals, before the tune turns to complete and utter Nordic devastation with manic growls, and vast sonic soundscapes created by merciless guitars and keyboards. It's an epic piece to say the least. On "Tides of Chaos", the band conjures up some doomy atmosphere with heavy guitar riffs, effective harmonies using clean and growled vocals, and many lead guitar textures. Once again images of the vast and cold Nordic landscape comes to mind when listening to "Essence", a piece brimming with melancholy, thanks to understated keyboard work, melodic guitars, and passionate clean singing that works well against the black metal growls. I'd have to say that Enslaved have now equaled Dimmu Borgir and Borknagar as far as effectively incorporating both clean and black metal vocals within the confines of each song. "Api-Vat" is a more straightforward metal number, while the closer "Heir to the Cosmic Seed" is another progressive rock type number, with driving guitar riffs, ominous keyboard effects, and haunting clean vocals.
Each track on RUUN is an adventurous journey, a mini-epic so to speak, and the sum of all these excellent songs equals one gargantuan release from Enslaved. There's a good possibility that RUUN will impact metal fans much like Opeth's Ghost Reveries did in 2005. Wonderful stuff, and a real breakthrough in the world of progressive and symphonic black metal.
2) Path To Vanir
3) Fusion Of Sense And Earth
5) Tides Of Chaos
8) Heir to the Cosmic Seed