Between 2010-2011, Norwegian progressive black metal act Enslaved went into the studio and recorded a few songs that eventually made their way onto various limited edition EPs that were released between their Axioma Ethica Odini and Riitiir full-lengths albums. The Sleeping Gods – Thorn captures those seven tracks all in one place, and comprises a wealth of styles that hints at all the various stages in the bands career. As such, it's a must hear for any Enslaved fan, and serves nicely as a stopgap till their next album.
Both "Heimvegen" and "Alu Misyrki" feature the majestic & powerful blend of progressive rock and raging black metal that we've come to expect from Enslaved over the years, as clean & growling vocals do battle over killer riffs, blast beats, and prog keyboards, while "Synthesis" dives headfirst into Hawkwind styled space rock and electronica, complete with haunting vocals and layers of synths and effects. The instrumental "Nordlys" is straight prog, as layers of synths and textured guitar riffs paint majestic melodies, and "The Sleeping Gods" takes the band down surprising gothic rock avenues, an intriguing track but certainly not a direction we are used to seeing Enslaved going in. For "Disintegrator", there's a sort of black metal meets electronica vibe, complete with symphonic keys floating underneath Grutle Kjellson's evil rasps, and the ominous Mellotron comes out for the creepy "Striker", another piece heavy on the electronic & prog leanings, Grutle's growling and Ivar Bjørnson's steady tremolo picking the only items keeping it in the black metal camp.
Overall, The Sleeping Gods- Thorn is somewhat of a mixed bag; when it's good, it's really good, but a few of these tracks would have been better off left on the cutting room floor. But, as a rarities collection, and for the simple fact that this is Enslaved after all, it's more than a worthwhile listen.
2. Alu Misyrki
4. Nordlys (instrumental)
5. The Sleeping Gods