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Enslaved: RUUN

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.

Track Listing
1) Entroper
2) Path To Vanir
3) Fusion Of Sense And Earth
5) Tides Of Chaos
6) Essence
7) Api-vat
8) Heir to the Cosmic Seed

Added: September 15th 2006
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Enslaved Website
Hits: 6957
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Enslaved: RUUN
Posted by Ken Pierce, SoT Staff Writer on 2006-09-15 05:39:59
My Score:

The band Enslaved were always ahead of the game in terms of Viking/Black Metal but they have truly raised the bar of their sound on Ruun, an album that will long be referred to as not only one of the bands best releases but also as a masterpiece of modern Metal. The album succeeds on a number of levels because it is perhaps the most Progressive we have ever found Enslaved performing since their inception over 15 years ago. With their tenth recording the band uses a wide assortment of palettes of music to paint with bringing their listener to fascinating new worlds. Many of the feels reminded me of some of Opeths direction but perhaps it was Mellotron usage in the opening track "Entroper". It's a track that will instantly call new listeners to their sound because it has the epic quality that the band is known for but yet takes many Progressive queues and allows the band to reach a wider audience. The song is also melodically sung by keyboardist Herbrand Larsen and he does a fine job of this type of vocal across the album. I find this aspect a perfect companion to the Black Metal growls of Grutle Kjellson as together the music is able to achieve a higher level of experimentation by using the two in unison. The mix of vocals has become an almost common practice and bands that are doing this to positive effect (most specifically the longer lasting one) continue to make the genre more interesting and accessible. Selling records and making more folks enjoy your music is not too much selling out as it is a career necessity. When bands like Enslaved do it, it almost proves a level of "this is OK to do" in the younger Black or Death Metal groups. The album is also a perfect follow up to their last album, the also Progressive laced "Isa". Tracks like "Ruun" and "Heir To The Cosmic Seed" were among my favorites and show the group as fans of Psychedelic music as well as they mix flavors heard in Pink Floyd music to great effect.

This is a high recommendation and probably one of the most unique Black Metal albums recorded for the year and yet it is unfair to label it as one genre. I think a lot of work, care and creativity have been placed into its construction and recording It all shows very brightly and makes this one of the more standout records of the year in Metal. This is recommended for Progressive fans that are tolerant of Harder Edged music like this and for fans of bands like Opeth who continually showcase just how well Prog elements work in this genre as a whole. Enslaved prove with this album why they have been such a success for so long. It's high time for the rest of the world to catch up.

» Reader Comments:

Enslaved: RUUN
Posted by Hugh Dark on 2006-12-06 08:15:44
My Score:

Much like Emperor in the past decade and the unique stylings of Opeth today, this band is making innovative inroads to changing a genre and what is expected of those who participate. This cd is a little darker than the previous release with a little more warmth to the tone and slightly scaled back; backing-vocals. This is an essential purchase for 2006 for those who are interested in riding the wave of progress.

2004 Sea Of Tranquility
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