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Enslaved: In Times

Those genre defying Norwegian legends known as Enslaved are back with their 13th platter of progressive black metal, titled In Times. One of those acts that can seemingly do no wrong, ever, Enslaved have been on quite a roll in recent years, delivering album after album of thought provoking progressive metal that always has one foot in authentic Scandinavian black metal while the other swims in adventurous prog-rock. In Times once again sees the band, Ivar Bjørnson (guitar), Grutle Kjellson (vocals, bass), Cato Bekkevold (drums), Herbrand Larsen (keyboards, vocals) and Ice Dale (guitar), refusing to replicate past successes, ever diving deeper and deeper into new sounds and textures.

The band unleashes a furious blast of demonic black metal with opener "Thurisaz Dreaming", as violent blast beats, thunderous guitar riffs, and Kjellson's evil growls & rasps assault the listener with cold, pummeling shards of extreme metal might, Larsen's occasional clean vocal passage the only thing tempering this lethal lead off track. "Building With Fire" takes the opposite approach, a much more melodic & progressive piece, with haunting keyboards providing the backdrop to textured riffing and Larson's magnificent vocal delivery, as he battles the fierce growls of Kjellson. "One Thousand Years of Rain" is 8-minutes of pure thunder, as crushing riffs from Bjørnson & Dale lay the foundation for soaring keys, maniacal growls, and dreamy clean vocal passages, resulting in an utterly punishing yet addicting song. I'm reminded a bit of British act Anathema at times on "Nauthir Bleeding", especially on the atmospheric, melodic sections, though once Grutle bursts onto the scene with his harsh growls, you are reminded that this is indeed Enslaved after all. Some spectacular lead guitar solos and keyboard orchestrations on this one also make it one of the must hear tracks on the album. The near 11-minute title cut again shows just how Enslaved are continually moving forward, as Opeth-meets-Pink Floyd styled lead guitar lines permeate crisp riffs and spooky keyboard washes, before things totally do an about-face with bludgeoning riffing, manic drum blasts, and those crazy vocal duels between the growls and melodic styles that work so well with this band. This is progressive metal at its finest folks. Hammond organ is at the forefront of closer "Daylight", another collision of black metal & progressive rock, complete with addicting melodies, gorgeous soundscapes, but also moments of pulverizing brutality. Words just cannot describe how good this song is, but then again, In Times as a whole is one of those albums that just defies precise'll have to experience this one yourself to really believe just how diverse and spectacular it really is.

Could In Times be Enslaved's greatest achievement? We seem to be pondering that each and every time these guys release a new album, and to date they have so many near perfect releases that it's getting to the point where we say 'how are they going to top that one?" and they turn around and do just that. For now, let's just treat In Times as another mind altering release from the always dependable, always changing, always delivering Enslaved, a band that's not afraid to break new ground but always remembers where they came from. This one's going to be on many Best of 2015 lists, I guarantee it.

See more about this release on our recent YouTube show!

Track Listing
1. Thurisaz Dreaming
2. Building With Fire
3. One Thousand Years of Rain
4. Nauthir Bleeding
5. In Times
6. Daylight

Added: August 15th 2015
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Band Facebook Page
Hits: 3074
Language: english

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Enslaved: In Times
Posted by Steven Reid, SoT Staff Writer on 2015-08-15 06:05:26
My Score:

I'm often guilty of proclaiming that progressive metal has little left to say, forgetting that true progressive metal hasn't even begun to get its message across in full yet. Opeth opened flood gates and many have followed, but few, if any, have gone on to make the impact that Enslaved have and continue to, to this very day; In Times being their latest majestic piece of anger and melody.

When a band can pull out a piece like "Thurisaz Dreaming" by way of album introduction, then you know that the rest of the journey is going to be in the realms of jaw dropping. This is ambitiously aggressive, beautifully poised, eerily unhinged and imperiously crafted. Banks of vocals careen into view, soaring lone voice leading the way, as gut churning growls are utterly slammed into place by gargantuan slabs of guitars. It's a huge statement and one which truly stands out as a way forward for progressive metal, when so many want to follow standards set long ago. How do you follow it? By simply not caring about what's come before and heading off in a different direction altogether. "Building With Fire" is almost commercial by comparison, a neat melody delivered by gritty but seductive guitar and lilting voice - slow it down and we're talking potentially chart bothering, before the controlled horror kicks in via threatening vocals and dramatic melodic shifts. Both tracks, as five of the six on show are, clock in at over eight minutes in length - the odd one out being more than ten. This fact alone allows for songs which become journeys of great depth and wonder, as the moods are altered continuously; just as you get a handle on where we're headed, off we go in search of the new. "One Thousand Years Of Rain" positively chimes with a melody that music which is still steeped in threat really should never be able to - its like Ghost without the masks, faceprint and theatrics, and much more believable for it.

From there it shouldn't be possible to heighten the atmosphere and drama, yet "Nauthir Bleeding" hits home with such conviction that you almost feel like part of the song. It's a heady experience of brooding melodrama, and if you're brave enough to slip on a pair of headphones… prepare to lose eight minutes of your life to a song begging for the attention it deserves, but never ostentatiously. "In Times", fittingly, is the longest song, tempo changes used to continually set, reset and set once more the scene of desolation and despair, oppressive outbursts pierced with the merest glimpses of light, before "Daylight" utilises soaring guitar solos to offset brutish passages and offer up some hope as the album ends.

In Times is mighty, its audacious, its controlled and yet its daringly blithe in its approach. More importantly its utterly irresistible and yet another signal that Enslaved are a special outfit making special sounds.

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