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Enslaved: Axioma Ethica Odini

Remember the first time you heard Opeth's Blackwater Park? Can you recall how glorious their mixing of death metal, progressive rock, and folk was to your ears, and how, many years later it still gives you goosepumps every time you listen to it?

What does Enslaved's latest Axioma Ethica Odini have to do with Blackwater Park you might ask? Well, at the surface, nothing really. Norway's Enslaved have steadily been releasing one winner after another for years, debuting back in the early 90's as a pure black metal band, and slowly starting to infiltrate progressive elements into their adventurous extreme music. However, on this latest CD, Enslaved perfectly mesh the savagery with the beauty, the light with the dark, the crushing with the somber, in much the same fashion that Opeth did so successfully on Blackwater Park. This is a profound work, easily one of 2010's best releases, and an album that will be remembered and beloved for years to come.

Just listen to the band destroying the listener with brutal riffs, bombastic drums, monstrous keyboards, and savage vocal growls on the lethal opener "Ethica Odini", yet inject the right amount of melody and clean vocals just to keep things varied. It's a similar format on "Raidho", another raging inferno of a number that again mixes the clean and growled vocals to perfection. Things slow down a bit for the death metal stylings of "Waruun", a track that features some crushing guitar & organ riffs before the pace picks up with symphonic black metal elements and a mixture of clean, growled, and rasped vocals. The instantly catchy "The Beacon" has plenty of hooks housed within the pulverizing black metal framework, and the dark & ominous "Giants" is sure to send chills up and down your spine. There are parts of this song, and others throughout Axioma Ethica Odin, where you can almost envision the talents of Porcupine Tree's Steven Wilson being involved somehow. That Porcupine Tree/Pink Floyd influence just seems to be there in the background, giving many of the songs here a similar quality that can be compared to when Wilson worked with Opeth years ago. Again, another slight comparison to Blackwater Park.

Three seven minute plus epics finish out the CD, but it's the moody "Night Sight" that really impresses the most, a dark & somber metallic prog rock track featuring lilting guitar chords, creepy vocals, and a heaping amount of keyboards. The complex middle section reminds us all this is metal afterall, but then the gorgeous melodic finale takes you back into dreamy progville once more. Plenty of bombast on the savage symphonic black metal closer "Lightening", with Grutle Kiellson's vocals taking on a ferocious gargle that is some of his best wailing on the album, and no shortage of crushing guitar & organ riffs to drive the point home.

Axioma Ethica Odini is epic all the way through, a classic recording from Enslaved that will someday be looked at as the crown jewel in a discography already filled with remarkable albums that are deemed today as classics of the genre. If you want to hear how lethal black metal and atmospheric & melodic progressive rock can live together, then you NEED to hear this album, plain and simple. Highest Recommendations!

Track Listing

  1. 'Ethica Odini'
  2. 'Raidho'
  3. 'Waruun'
  4. 'The Beacon'
  5. 'Axioma'
  6. 'Giants'
  7. 'Singular'
  8. 'Night Sight'
  9. 'Lightening'

Added: December 18th 2010
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 4587
Language: english

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Enslaved: Axioma Ethica Odini
Posted by Jeff B, SoT Staff Writer on 2010-12-18 21:08:27
My Score:

Progressive Black Metal Album of the Year

Since their inception almost twenty years ago in Sveio, Norway, Enslaved has always been a force to be reckoned with in the black metal scene. With their eleventh studio album, Axioma Ethica Odini, they've once again proven to be at the top of their game. Seamlessly mixing crushing black metal and mellow seventies progressive rock, Enslaved has pulled off this formula with a feeling of consistency that few bands can emulate. This album will ruthlessly torture you with evil atmospheres and fast riffs, only to be at your side and heal you with a beautiful folk passage or clean vocal harmonies. Axioma Ethica Odini toys with your emotions, but manages to do so in an interesting and original way. Yes, this is a diverse and challenging listen that will take a few spins to wrap your head around - but it's worth every single one. If you like Enslaved, progressive metal, or black metal in general, Axioma Ethica Odini is an album that should rank high on your 2010 album list. This is a gem that every extreme metal fan should check out sooner rather than later.

The music here is a mix of black metal (on the more symphonic side), seventies progressive rock, and occasional death metal leanings in the vein of Opeth. Just in the powerful opening track ("Ethica Odini") alone, you can here this sound in its fullest form. This album is filled with sections that grab you at first listen, but it will take a few more spins to fully appreciate everything that Axioma Ethica Odini has to offer. A song like "The Beacon" (which I initially didn't like very much), now haunts me with its mystical chorus and supersonic black metal riffs. Though the music here is keyboard-laden, there are none of those cheesy keyboard tones that make you feel like you're listening to a power metal album about killing dragons and saving princesses. Expect organ, mellotron, orchestral tones, and the occasional synth like in the interlude track "Axioma". One of the biggest assets to Enslaved's music is their terrific musicianship, and that shines ever so brightly on Axioma Ethica Odini. The drumming from Cato Bekkevold has always been a highlight for me - I adore his playing style, and his chops are undeniable as well. The clean vocals from Herbrand Larsen are beautiful and melancholic, whereas the snarls from Grutle Kjellson are that of a possessed demon. Whether you like that or not is up to you, but I can conclude that the vocal department of Enslaved is jaw-dropping and their variation is noteworthy.

The production is terrific. Whereas most black metal sounds raw and harsh, Axioma Ethica Odini has a warm sound, often comparable to a seventies prog rock or heavy metal album. It seems that Enslaved has taken a hint from recent Opeth releases, notably Watershed and Ghost Reveries in terms of production. Although this extra coating of polish may turn off black metal purists, I think it fits the music perfectly - I wouldn't have it any other way.


Axioma Ethica Odini is a terrific album by Enslaved, and it proves what an unstoppable force these guys are. If this isn't "extreme prog metal album of the year 2010", it's awfully close. I have a feeling that we will be looking back on Axioma Ethica Odini as a defining progressive black metal album a few decades in the future. Although I was tempted to hand out 5 shiny ones, I'll go with a big 4.5 star rating for now. If you've been living under a rock and still haven't checked these guys out, I highly recommend jumping aboard now. Essential!

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