Less than a year since Axioma Ethica Odini, and Norwegian progressive black metal act Enslaved have returned with a free digital EP to satisfy their hungry fanbase. After the fantastic milestone that was Axioma Ethica Odini, the direction Enslaved has chosen to pursue on The Sleeping Gods may come as a bit of a surprise to some people. The band clearly isn't content with re-hashing the same album over and over again, and The Sleeping Gods is actually quite an experimental release that covers a wide variety of genres. Although not quite on par with some of the band's full-length albums, The Sleeping Gods is a very worthy EP that offers just enough deviation from the band's typical sound to make it a unique effort in their growing discography.
The music on The Sleeping Gods is quite varied, and a decent amount of it completely defies Enslaved's progressive black metal label. On this album you can expect progressive rock, black metal, punk, ambient, post-rock, tribal chants, and just about everything in-between. The Sleeping Gods is not a "typical" Enslaved release, but it's of unquestionably high quality, regardless. "Heimvegen" is the most "traditional" Enslaved song here, seeing that it features an epic viking metal feel throughout. "Alu Misyrki" is a bit punky and quite different from anything I've ever heard previously from Enslaved. "Synthesis" and "Nordlys" are both instrumental tracks, the former being a dark ambient piece and the latter being a fantastic post rock track. "Synthesis" is too drawn-out for my tastes, but it does set up a haunting atmosphere, which I'm sure is the primary focus of the song. The closing song, "The Sleeping Gods", is a Norwegian tribal track that (like "Synthesis") is a bit too repetitive for my tastes, but it's a quality track nonetheless.
The production and musicianship are (unsurprisingly) extremely professional and well-done. Enslaved are an extremely talented act that manages to perfect many different styles on The Sleeping Gods, and their quality as musicians is never once in question. The EP also features an organic, 70's-styled production that sounds absolutely wonderful to these ears.
So even though The Sleeping Gods isn't the most successful Enslaved release out there, it's still an excellent addition to any fan's collection and a highly enjoyable listen. Enslaved is a band that never plays it safe, and it shows more than ever on this diverse and experimental EP. The Sleeping Gods is also available for free and legal download, so there's no reason not to check it out! The Sleeping Gods deviates from Enslaved's typical sound while still keeping the quality high, and that's exactly what makes for a good EP in my opinion. 3.5 stars are well-deserved.
1. Heimvegen (5:38)
2. Alu Misyrki (5:02)
3. Synthesis (6:19)
4. Nordlys (5:45)
5. The Sleeping Gods (5:44)
Total Time 28:28