By: Angry Metal Guy

Enslaved is Norway’s biggest and most successful (currently active) metal band. They have garnered a following of intensely loyal fans who adore their every release with the fervor of the newly converted. In fact, I once counted myself a huge fan. There was a string of records that Enslaved released between 2000’s Mardraum: Beyond the Within and 2008’s Vertebrae which are practically unassailable. Not every one of those albums was perfect—Isa and Ruun were both only great records when sat side-by-side the excellent Below the Lights and Vertebrae, but they were consistently addictive listens from a band that could do no wrong. And I, along with everyone else, lathered Axioma Ethica Odini with praise, only to declare it one of my biggest disappointments of the year in 2010. I meh’d the hulking RIITIIR, and ¯\_(ツ)_/¯’d its follow-up In Times, declaring it a testament to the excesses of the modern recording industry. In sum: Enslaved went from being one of my favorite bands in 2008 to being a band whose newest release almost didn’t get reviewed by me. But with all the ranting and raving about how is the best album they’ve put out in a while, I couldn’t keep myself away. So brace yourselves and break out your flame-retardant clothes, because I’ll be seeing you in the comment field below.

Enslaved 2017

Contrary to what you may have read, E is nothing revolutionary for Enslaved. Instead, it is a marked continuation of the band’s post-Axioma material. The songs are long—averaging in at 8 minutes and 19 seconds—with the opener and closer pushing the 11 and 10 minute marks respectively. They tracks tend toward being slow burners, often giving ample space to the repetition of individual ideas, and the layering of clean vocals, keyboards, and soundscapes. For example, “Feathers of Eolh” sports an outro with an awesome 5/4 riff that goes on for a minute and 54 seconds. During this time they slightly change the feel, increasing the track’s intensity while lacing the sound with Melotron, and chants which drive for an almost ritualistic fervor. The album’s final track continues this trajectory as well: a lilting introduction (in 7/8 time) and Perdition City saxophone.

When E is at its best, it is groovy and ethereal. “Sacred Horse” is one of the album’s finest moments, with a hypnotic “outro” making up the back half of the song (literally, it’s over three and a half minutes long). Like the aforementioned “Feathers of Eolh,” the simple idea accrues layer after layer of sounds—tom heavy drums rumble with the bass underneath it like a slow boil—before breaking into a genuinely black metal rendition of the riff for 20 seconds. And while fewer and further between than one might like, moments “Axis of the Worlds” demonstrates that Enslaved hasn’t forgotten how to write groovy riffs. Just under the surface, there’s a sense of the Enslaved that I grew to love in the early 2000s.

When is at its worst, it suffers from Advanced Progressiveness Syndrome™, which is the idea that if you ham-handedly shove melotron into your songs, use blues scales and make them really long, they will be “progressive.” What has resulted is that since going more “progressive” Enslaved has increased the length of their songs by nearly 2 minutes and 15 seconds on average.1 This leads to a lot of tracks that overstay their welcome by minutes at a time. I’m not sure that Enslaved has increased its “riffs per minute” measure, I think they’re just taking a lot longer to get anywhere than they used to. When this works, you’ve got “Sacred Horse”; entrancing and inspiring. When this doesn’t work, you’ve got “Hiindsiight,” which feels burdensome and collapses under its own weight.

Despite some of the frustration that I have with the excesses of the band’s current sound, E is a record that does mark the band’s most engaging work since Vertebrae. The tracks are a bit shorter, the groove is a bit more present, and the album is a bit more bite-sized at 49 minutes.2 While I still think the whole of the band’s vision is hampered by an Industry Standard Production Job™, there’s plenty to like here. Definitely check out “Axis of the Worlds” and “Sacred Horse,” which could both show up on end of year lists for great songs.

Rating: Good!
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: v0 MP3
Label: Nuclear Blast Records
Websites: enslaved.bandcamp.com | http://enslaved.no/ | www.facebook.com/enslaved
Releases worldwide: October 13th, 2017


By: El Cuervo

I’ve been continually mystified across the past several years over my complete and utter ambivalence towards Norway’s Enslaved. I love black metal. I love progressive rock. I love other progressive black metal. And yet Enslaved eludes me despite probably being the most notable example of it. It’s even worth adding that Opeth, with whom they’re frequently compared, is one of my favorite bands. I’ve invested a decent amount of time across a decent number of their records, most notably Vertebrae, but largely haven’t bothered with repeated spins. That changes now as I actively wanted to commit time and effort into one of their releases to hear if it stuck; I therefore signed my name next to the promo for E.

For what is a nominally black metal band there isn’t an awful lot of it left on E. Blackened passages pepper most tracks but a progressive, chunky, riff-based style is most commonly utilized. There are a few nod-alongs here as the leads tend to have a good groove. The more overt progressive elements include, for example, a particularly jazzy keyboard on “Sacred Horse,” liberal saxophone on “Hiindsiight,” backing strings on “Storm Son,” the flute on “Feathers of Eolh” and the noodly guitar intro to “Axis of the Worlds.” The record is certainly not monotonous on account of each track using slightly different tools. The song-writing and structures fit the progressive image too, with a flowing style used across expansive tracks of which five run to eight or more minutes.

I appreciate the man-sized cojones in opening with, and releasing as the first single, the longest track: “Storm Son.” Stretching to nearly 11 minutes, it’s a sprawling demonstration of all the elements which come to fore across E. Opening with natural ambiance before moving to progressive prettiness, it goes on to traverse passages of heavy grooves, Viking chants and reasonable blackened blasting. The epic chants arising around 7:40 which reprise over the ensuing few minutes make for a decent payoff over the track’s duration but I have a definite gripe; these separate passages feel very separate, as if they could easily be on different tracks. The song-writing stitches them together without real unification. And touching on payoffs, “Sacred Horse” and “Hiindsiight” both utilize builds which would be effective if only their payoffs were fulfilling. It only lasts for 20 seconds on the former and a climax isn’t even hit on the latter, with the crescendo weakly petering out. There’s wasted potential across E and I’m left with an overall dissatisfaction.

There are good, appreciable parts to each track. The swirling outro to “The River’s Mouth” is cool and the opening couple of minutes to “Sacred Horse” are probably the record’s best with the jazzy keyboard layered over a nifty riff before the transition into an ascending black metal lead. But when reviewing an album one must consider it in the round, not just from moment to moment. I like parts but I don’t really like the whole, and as such, I feel no compulsion to return to the album after my reviewers’ duties are completed. I emphasize that I don’t actively dislike E but my absolute ambivalence remains. There is a distinct lack of emotional attachment for me and I’m struggling to glean on overarching personality conveyed through the music. Some passages are fairly repetitive such as segregated sections on “Storm Son” and the conclusion to “Feathers of Eolh” so I’m surprised that even in these parts so little sticks.

The great Enslaved-appreciation project has not, for me, been demystified despite my best efforts and repeated listens. E is competent in the sense that it’s a professional package and individual parts are reasonably good. But my overall response is firstly my familiar ambivalence; secondly, and due to dedicated observations for review purposes, the problems I note above. I’m now satisfied that I’ve truly given Enslaved a fair shake (fairer than most!) and that they’ll never hold anything for me. Cue gnashing of teeth about how I’m not “an objective reviewer” because this isn’t my “sort of music”.


Rating: 2.0/5.0

Show 2 footnotes

  1. Lengths of albums follow: Below the Lights, average song length 6:37, album length 46 minutes; Isa, average song length: 6:14, album length: 44 minutes; Ruun, average song length: 5:45, album length: 46 minutes; Vertebrae, average song length: 6:08, album length: 49 minutes; Axioma average song length: 6:36, album length: 59 minutes; Riitiir, average song length: 8:24, album length: 67 minutes; In Times, average song length: 8:52, album length 53 minutes; E, average song length: 8:19, album length: 49 minutes.
  2. Compared to the 60 minutes that AxiomaRIITIIR, and In Times averaged
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  • Daniribalbert

    Seems like boss has emerged from the shadows twice in a single day. Now, I won’t expect to see him before christmas.

    • Monsterth Goatom

      Whenever he suddenly pops up here, I think of that bumper sticker: “Jesus is coming! Everyone look busy!”

    • This means it will be a brvtal winter of discontent.

      • defjam

        Winter is coming

    • sir_c

      It’s no coincidence we only see him around Easter and Christmas.

      And Halloween.

      • Name’s Dalton

        Brilliant

  • welyyt

    So AMG, you gonna keep up with this pace?

  • André Snyde Lopes

    Well, I liked the last 3 Enslaved records (though In Times fell somewhat short) so I guess this will be rather enjoyable as well.

  • hallowed

    I find it quite satisfying. On my first listen, I’ve got a feeling they’ve borknagared some of the arrangements and I like it.

  • Chris

    Like El Cuervo, it took me a really long time to get into Enslaved. I mostly just shrugged at their albums for years…then I saw them live (opening for Amon Amarth). Even though the power in the venue was shit and went out entirely multiple times during their set (they only ended up getting through two songs), I was absolutely enthralled by their performance. I became a fan that night, and have really enjoyed everything I’ve heard from them since. When Enslaved “clicks”, they click bigly.

    Spun “E” a few times today, and while I really like it, I can see how it wouldn’t knock people’s socks off if they were already a huge fan of their “new” sound.

  • Shrümpelstiltskin

    I haven’t fully listened to E but from what I’ve heard so far, it seems like I’m going to be disappointed. In Times was a let down for me too, but I loved RIITIIR and Axioma. I still think Enslaved is one of the most exciting and interesting metal bands to originate from black metal, and I’m sure I’ll keep spinning E for a few months even if it does disappoint.

  • So first off, El Cuervo – if that even is your real name, that is – I think it should be mentioned that you clearly are not an objective reviewer, since this isn’t your sort of music. Why they keep you, I’ll never know.
    On the real, though, excellent job gentlemen. AMG delivers as always, and I can certainly appreciate the struggle of objectivity when reviewing something you’re biased against in some way. Kudos to both writers.
    As for this, I refuse to refer to it as anything other than W, and while everything they touch has gold flecks, Enslaved peaked with Vertebrae for me. Everything since has prog’d a touch too far away from their blackened roots to keep me listening, but the only way I’ll ever lose interest completely would be if they went full Opeth.
    You never go full Opeth.

    • swthate

      This reply isn’t meant to start a war over a band that wasn’t even reviewed. But I feel compelled to ask, really, what’s more metal than giving your fans the finger and doing what you want (and doing it well)? If you’re Opeth, go full-fucking-Opeth!

      With that out of my system!… I enjoyed most of the singles being released on Spotify, in particular Storm Son. Enslaved fell off my radar since *Vertebrae*, but they’re back on.

      • Diego Molero

        That is very metal, but only if they, you know, do metal.

      • Nope, we goin’ to war, homie. You have a different musical preference than I, and the only acceptable way to handle this is violence.
        … or, ya know, I could, like, agree with you. I’ll always admire the musicianship of the ‘peth, and they are doing their thing pretty well as you said, but dammit I want another Blackwater Park. I want them screams, man, I want another “Black Rose Immortal”, even another “Grand Conjuration” would suffice. Their band it may be, but according to 2017 what I want matters. I think a lawsuit is in order, here.

        • If you intend to declare a jihad on someone else’s musical preference, you must then at some point compare them to Adolf Hitler. This is the golden rule for any intelligent online discussion about musical tastes.

          • I don’t recognize that i word in front of “online discussion”.

          • Name’s Dalton

            It’s the American thing to do.

          • Like home made Apple Pie!

        • swthate

          “You have a different musical preference than I, and the only acceptable way to handle this is violence.”

          Okay, THAT’S metal.

          But I can go along with your sentiments… I want an album that reeeeeally feels like the logical conclusion to Ghost Reveries. I have no idea what that would sound like… but Watershed didn’t sound like it.

          • Watershed left me feeling hurt and confused in a manner I had previously thought only breakups could.

      • Dagoth_RAC

        My disappointment with Opeth over the last few releases is that they have *not* gone full-fucking-Opeth. Quite the opposite. The largely mellow and acoustic Damnation, from earlier in their career,
        sounded like a very “Opethian” take on material that veered far outside
        metal. To me, their recent material sounds like a tribute band to Mikeal Akerfeldt’s favorite handful of obscure 70s prog bands. It does not sound like Opeth going in a new, inspired, or original direction that is simply no longer very metal.

        • swthate

          I think that’s the better critique of their recent stuff that I have heard. I can agree with that.

        • John Mosley

          I love me some damnation

        • A Feed From Cloud Mountain

          “To me, their recent material sounds like a tribute band to Mikeal Akerfeldt’s favorite handful of obscure 70s prog bands.”

          Wait, you mean to tell me that wasn’t the actual goal?

        • Kryopsis

          Well said! I understand that a lot of people appreciate the last Opeth release but they’ve lost me. I constantly return to Blackwater Park and Damnation but I am indifferent towards 70s Psychedelic Rock and Prog, not to mention I do not like the sound of Hammond.

      • basenjibrian

        Especially since Opeth’s “metal” elements were always so damn….boring…anyway.

    • Belgian Tom’s Hat Trick

      I see what you did there (hem, Tropic Thunder)!

    • Choodi

      Leave it to fucking Opeth fans to make everything about fucking Opeth. Opeth fans are the new Tool fans.

      • You’ll live.

      • RuySan

        Tool fans are immediately removed from my Facebook feed. Don’t think anyone had ever the need to do that with Opeth fans.

        • basenjibrian

          Have you ever tried any of Maynard’s “rotten grape product” (wine) he somehow produces in Arizona? There was a line around the block to get into the Oakland Whole Paycheck (Foods) when he was on a WINE publicity tour.
          Tool fans. LOL

    • The Akerstache

      I personally quite enjoy tidbits of Watershed and Heritage (they’re both weak albums all together tho and except for two or three songs on each I barely listen to them), and I think Pale Communion is legitimately great. The more I’ve listened to Sorceress though, the more I’ve begun to realize what my problem is with them now. The music is still good enough, it’s a bit too proggy for my taste, but you know, it’s good. Nowadays the failing is in the transitions. Mikael has this jarring way of writing music now, where instead of giving any sort of transition he just goes head on to the next riff or keyboard bit without so much more than a drum fill. Think about the Moor for example, the first five minutes of it are essentially one long transition between riffs, constantly building on each other until they combine into one massive explosion of awesome riffing and Mikael starts growling. Nowadays you get songs like Strange Brew where everything starts and stops without so much as a sense of order (I about cried when I heard the opening keyboard part the first time, it’s the single most un-opeth thing they’ve ever penned). They don’t let anything develop anymore, and that’s honestly their biggest failing, how they went from writing long masterpieces like The Moor, Blackwater Park, The Drapery Falls, Godhead’s Lament to writing such poor songs as Strange Brew, Sorceress, and Era is beyond me.

      I can’t be too angry, because despite all their missteps, Mikael’s prog-boner did give us Faith in Others, which I wholeheartedly believe is the best album closer they’ve ever penned and a top 5 Opeth song. So I can’t be too angry. I just wish all their music was of that quality.

      • I don’t hate Newpeth, I just have to be in a much proggier mood to enjoy it than I typically am. Oldpeth is bestpeth in my book is all, they certainly never became worse musicians. I was able to enjoy Watershed eventually, I just needed to accept that it was a different beast entirely. That said, I’d kill for a proper successor to Ghost Reveries .

        • The Akerstache

          I’m in a different boat, Heir Apparent was my introduction to Opeth. I bought Blackwater Park, Ghost Reveries, and Watershed on the spot after hearing that glorious outro riff. But the rest of Watershed never really appealed to me, Heir Apparent and Hessian Peel remain two of my favorite Opeth songs, but the rest just kind of bores me. Hell, I don’t even wish for growls, I just want their beautiful acoustics and amazing riffs back. Oldpeth sent shivers down my spine unlike any band I’ve ever heard, I miss that in their music.

          • See, it was their ability to blend the spine tingling cleans with the spine crushing heavies that did it for me. Many bands pull off that sonic polarity pretty well, or at least utilize the concept in some way or other, but very few did it as effectively and powerfully as Oldpeth. Chiral, Fen, Fellwarden, and Vinsta are all doing an excellent job keeping the Oldpeth spirit alive nowadays, but I still just wish that Opeth were doing that themselves.
            I guess, after all this has been taken into account, the fairer warning would be that one must never go full In Flames.

  • Julien Robitaille

    ” ¯_(ツ)_/¯ ”

    That pretty much sums up my reaction to In Times, even though I absolutely love both Axioma Ethica Odini and Riitiir, for all their bloated-ness didn’t distract me of the fact that they’re both god-damned catchy.

    Storm son had me wondering if it was as disjointed as In Times, but the River’s mouth got my attention alright…

    Now I’m left anxious to listen to the rest…

    • Belgian Tom’s Hat Trick

      I am also a big fan of Axioma… Been tough, the last two releases, to get into. I will get this one, as well, and hope it captures my attention better than the last two. Still one of my favorite bands.

    • RuySan

      For me Axioma is their best post Below the Lights release. And it’s beautiful structured with its nice interlude and all. The first four songs are absolutely riff-tastic, more than anything Enslaved have done IMO.

      RIITIIR never did anything for me (same for Vertebrae). In Times was good in places, but it was let down by the loud mastering. Someone should make a petition asking Steve Wilson or Dan Swano to master Enslaved records.

  • Bas

    I liked frost and eld (no favorite albums of mine but enjoyable) the later stuff was always boring for me…

  • Bas

    Do we read the reviews to get a confirmation of our opinions?

    Its easy to comment with ‘i agree’ or ‘i dont agree’. I just did that a minute ago (with argument of both and conclusion of el c.).
    But what I wanted to say is that I love reading reviews here even when I have a different opinion of the album. I am a big fan of these double reviews! and happy to see AMG back in action.

    • Yolo Swaggins

      no, we come here because we are but sheep; incapable of creating our own decisions of the music we listen to.

      • Smalls…Leonard Smalls

        Sure…what this guy said!

  • Sophocles

    The album is fairly good, the clean vocals really shine here. It has an Ihsahn aura, some strange choice of instruments and patterns that makes it atmospheric, the wardruna guest gives a folk feeling and all these without sacrificing the bands sound. After 14 albums they decided to explore it further and go more prog, I am in!

  • Tired Science Guy

    I must be seriously missing something here because I’ve never found an enslaved album that quite scratched the itch. Several friends have evangelized Below the Lights for years and I just can’t figure it out. It’s a real shame too, because they have a huge back catalog that would balloon my library if I liked them. Oh well, I guess I’ll listen to Blackwater Park for the 50th time.

    • I hear that; I’ve tackled Enslaved’s discography a few times and always came up disenchanted. (Although, for me it’s Ghost Reveries for the 50th time)

    • Julien Robitaille

      50th time? That’s only scratching the surface! Try Still life for about 250 times, NOW that’s listening to an album through and through !

    • EnslavedEld73

      Eld is their best record for me. The one with the most emotional depth and sheer aggression.

    • Have you listened to Isa? I don’t LOVE this band, but I do really enjoy that album…

    • ElFuegoDiablo

      Several friends have evangelized Below the Lights for years and I just can’t figure it out.

      That’s a bummer, BTL is one of my two favorite Enslaved albums alongside Monumension. It’s hard to find words for why I like this phase of Enslaved the most… best I can say is that this period is the coldest, most atmospheric period they had. I hate to use the word “goth” but I think it applies here. The progressive elements were there in full force but had very sparse arrangements. The production was cleaned up considerably from the “Frost” and “Eld” pure black metal era but it wasn’t overproduced either. The lyrics were brutal, apocalyptic, and occult. Every single song is grim and melancholy, nothing at all uplifting like “Isa” or “The Watcher” from future albums. Best of all there were baffling experimental excursions into folk melodies on “Havenless” and “Sigmundskvadet”.

      Don’t get me wrong I’ll be buying “E”, when even the negative reviewer here has so many good things to say about the album I know I’ll be happy with it. But any time I see Enslaved live, it’s always the highlight of the night for me whenever they play their one token song from the MM/BTL era, whatever it may be.

    • IAmNotKenM

      Same. Enslaved somehow never makes it into regular rotation for me, even though they check all the boxes.

      I checked out E and it sounds like it’s going ok have the same fate.

  • HeavyMetalHamster

    See….now….I actually really like this album.
    As one who is not a huge fan of “4 to the floor” BM I appreciate the nuances and variety of this platter.
    The bonus track of What Else Is There (Royksopp cover) is maybe a bit pretentious, but the rest of the album i think is really interesting and well written.

    • Tofu muncher

      Aah so it’s a cover song? Didn’t know that, thanks.

  • sir_c

    Bought blindly, “Frost” was my first ever black metal CD at the time, and for that sole reason it has a special place. With digesting the later records of Enslaved I suffer from the same as Mr Cuervo.

    The music is well written, it is well executed and well produced. It ticks all the boxes of the genres I love. But it doesn’t steal my heart, I just can’t get myself to love it, no matter how hard I try. The same counts for Opeth.

    • Death_Black_Metal_Fanatic

      Dude I could not agree with you more. I’ve tried and tried to get into Opeth, and Enslaved (to a lesser extent), and I just CAN’T!!!! They just don’t click with me. There are bits and pieces of certain songs that I love, but as a whole I guess I just don’t get it. Fantastic musicianship, but it’s just not for me.

      • I honestly just think Opeth is crushingly dull. Please don’t take that as trolling by the way. It’s just the simplest, most direct way of expressing my honest feelings about the band.

  • Thatguy

    Since AMG remains wrong about Riitiir – which is a great album, second only to Vertebrae – I will take his review with a grain of salt. I hope this album is good since I am fond of Enslaved, but we shall see.

    The Band Photometer says ‘mature band doing what they like.’

    • Name’s Dalton

      I just bought an Enslaved zip hoodie, sonthis album had better be good.

      • Thatguy

        Hmm. I may get one.

        • Name’s Dalton

          I went a little nuts on zip hoodies a few weeks ago in anticipation of having to transition from my stock outfit of long camo cargo shorts and metal t-shirt, to something warmer. Bought the aforementioned Enslaved hood, along with zips by Wormed, Archspire, and Cryptopsy.

          • Thatguy

            Excellent choices.

          • Name’s Dalton

            High praise coming from a man with distinguished taste. Do you even need zip hoodies that far south?

          • Thatguy

            It gets cold here. And I live in the mountains – we get snow – not North American or Northern European snow, but still snow.

          • sdhjsdh

            Well you can have our snow. I’ll send it your way when I’ve had enough.

    • tomasjacobi

      You’re almost right about Riitiir; it’s a great album if you skip the last 2 two songs.

      • Diglett

        What? Forsaken is an awesome song and a great closer.

        Btw, I think RIITIIR is their best since Below the Lights.

        • tomasjacobi

          Nah, there’s maybe 3 to 4 minutes of a decent song in there, but they just had to drag it out to 11…
          Materal ends the album with a bang after only 49 minutes. Should’ve released it that way IMO.

  • I haven’t heard it yet, but will do so today. I thought In Times was excellent. I don’t like Opeth much (except for Heritage and Communion) and I don’t think they sound anything like Enslaved. To be honest I didn’t think Storm Son sounded amazing when I heard it, but I haven’t had the chance to listen to it properly. I’m looking forward to listening to the full album.

  • Zadion

    El Cuervo’s opening paragraph describes how I feel about Enslaved better than my clumsy and incoherent skills of self-expression ever could, right down to (pre-2011) Opeth being one of my favorite bands. Enslaved is easily the most overrated band in the scene, IMO.

    That said, I am still in denial and hope that one day they’ll inevitably “click” and I’ll see what others see, so I’ll be giving this a chance. I don’t love Vertebrae as much as AMG does (not even marginally), but I appreciate it enough to know there’s a swirl of ingredients there that may decompose into something I might be able to fanboy with the immensity others do one day.

  • Planex

    Enslaved is another band that I’ve always heard about, a couple frends love some of their older work, critical acclaim, “Norway’s frontrunner” yet I’ve never even tried.

    Should I start here or should I start with some of their classics to set a benchmark?

    • Try Axioma Ethica Odini and RIITIIR.
      First of them begins with (IMO) one of the best opening riffs in history – once it starts, you simply can’t stop this relentless monster. Then, after few minutes of building tension (and a small, calm interlude), comes massive culmination, followed by a solo which will squeeze every muscle in your face.
      Greatest moments on RIITIIR are – for me – absolutely epic 9 min “Roots of the Mountain” (dat chorus) and super groovy “Materal” (at 4:27 you’ll be dancing).

      • Heard “Roots” live. Epic.

    • I say listen to Below the Lights and work your way forward through the years.

  • Here’s Johnny

    fuckin boooo to you both!

  • He says he loves black metal. However he seems to have never listened to Enslaved. Their Viking Black Metal era? What kind of black metal does he love?

    I’m disappointed by how people don’t love black metal when they say they love black metal

  • PapaRay

    I’m a massive Enslaved slut, so I’m sure I’ll enjoy this. Just got my copy in the mail. I actually loved the last two albums as well, and I find RIITIIR in particular to be very underrated.

  • I’ve read the review which was written in the same manner with this.

    The number of paragraphs and the outlines are exactly same.

    1: Excuse: Why I reviewed this, notwithstanding that I don’t know anything about this band and their background, discography, and the similar bands to compare with.

    2:About the background: I write random things as long as I can about the band’s background witch I know almost nothing.

    3:See me touching everything: I hate the long instrumental and ambient tracks!

    4:See me touching everything: I don’t like! They did something and it’s not effective for me!

    5:Grudge and verdict: They are not bad potentially. However, it’s not for me! How I regret having listened to this. I understand everything what the band is doing only by this album. I give this a low point.

    Is this a template for the subjective bad review? Without compelling comparisons with their past or similar bands, it could not avoid objectivity.

  • Wilhelm

    I think the tracks would stick out more given a proper production/mixing/mastering job but as with their last several albums, the sound sounds bricked and slightly unpleasant when listened to (I noticed around the halfway point in the car and had to turn it off). This is a band that worships Pink Floyd and other 70’s prog heroes, so I just can’t understand why they go so heavy handed on the mastering part when their general concept (at least in the proggy parts) is spacey and ethereal. Some of the songs are brilliant but I’m not sure how often I will return to this.

    • My biggest disappointment about Enslaved was seeing them live. It was so loud that – despite using earplugs – not only instruments were idistinguishable, the whole songs were messed up beyond recognition. Using gestures I told the guy behind the console to turn it down (and I wasn’t the only one who angrily did this), so he made some minor move with sliders and after few minutes brought them back to the max.

      • basenjibrian

        This is a problem with too many bands. One local indie band has an amazing vocalist. They turned everything up so far live that the only thing you could hear was a metronymic beat, and while he was wailing away, it was like listening to him from a half mile away.

  • Iain Gleasure

    So El Cuervo feels the way about Enslaved I feel about Slayer. Neat.
    Additionally what even is prog and black anymore? This is apparently both but I’ve heard its ‘prog elements’ (at least according to El C) described as belonging to bands like Nightwish and Ensiferum before- strings, flute, jazzy bits.

  • EnslavedEld73

    Interesting reviews. I’ve only heard a couple songs off the new release, so I can’t comment on it. I will say that I’ve had mixed emotions over most of their releases in later years. I got into them early on, Eld being my favorite record by them. Eld has the emotional depth and sheer aggression, and Grutle’s authentic clean vocals that are missing from later releases. When the keyboardist joined the band, his emo vocals almost killed it for me. Hopefully that guy is back at the mall where he belongs. From what I’ve heard of the new clean vocalist, it is an improvement. Ivar is still a riff machine. I’m excited to hear it.

  • Tofu muncher

    A solid 3/5 if not 2.5/5 (2.75 then?) as some songs could be a bit shorter. What Else is There may be the one song getting a repeat listen (because it’s short and danceable?), and Håkon Vinje’s clean vocals reminds me of Depeche Mode. I cannot help but comparing this to Samael’s Hegemony and find I enjoy Hegemony more.

  • Frost15

    I see what you did here… You just created a flag review for a future ‘Mistakes were made’ section, where you will say that after giving this a few more spins you realized how wrong you were… or that’s what I want to believe because this album is magnificent (a solid 4.0 in my book). After reading some comments in this review’s forum I must say I’m quite shocked.
    I discovered Enslaved when they released Axioma Ethica Odini (one of my favourite records of all time) and after revisiting every single full album and EP they had put out they became one of my favourite bands ever (shit, I know I sound like a fanboy, maybe I am… gosh…); none of their albums is below a 4.0 in my book (except maybe Monumension).
    The thing is that their latter prog era sounded like the perfect evolution to my ears, with their last three efforts being almost flawless imho.
    It’s true that maybe this album is the weakest of their latter prog era (Axioma, RIITIIR, In Times, E), but even then it’s still very good, and it’s got a saxophone! a f**** saxophone in the last song guys!, so quit bitching and give this another chance haha :P
    Peace

  • manimal

    It’s ‘Production Industry Sound Standard’

  • John Mosley

    Enslaved is a band which has all the right ingredients, but fails to captivate me. I’ve jammed most if their catalogue at one time or another, but I’m still waiting for the eureka moment.

    • El_Cuervo

      This is basically my view.

      • Hulksteraus

        Was hooked from the first mouth-harp of Frost and epic opener of Eld with Enslaved. Gotta say it is the opposite with me. I’m a lyrics and atmosphere guy and Enslaved always hit the spot with me. Dropped off with In Times, but listening to “E” I am back in. Must be a generational thin with youngsters lik El Cuervo ;)

        • El_Cuervo

          Considering my favourite 5-year period of music is now probably 1971-76, I’m unsure that’s true.

  • Opeth is humane and emotional. Enslaved is metaphysical and detached. Comparing them is nonsense.

  • Alan Osborne

    Came in at Mardraum when I was a teenager, and to my mind it’s still a masterpiece of balls to the wall batshit crazy psychedelic Viking metal. Then with Monumension and Below the Lights I realised they were going down this route of “Pink Floyd with growling”, and I was okay with that. Not black metal anymore, but moving on now producing gorgeously rick progressive music. Isa? Lounge jazz with growling. Now they seem to alternate between convoluted nonsense in desperate need of an editor, and excessive smoothing out of all the old jagged edges. I still enjoy all their albums, and find plenty of spectacular musical moments, and some beautiful melodies, but they don’t coalesce into a convincing whole. A still great, but consistently frustrating band. E is still ticking the same disappointing boxes.

  • Brjoro

    Long time reader first time poster!

    First thanks to all at this site for great reviews, and civilized and mature discussions of this music. I’m in my late 40s, married/kids/job/etc and while I still love this music, the amateur and immature antics of most other metal sites have turned me off! Not so here!

    As for Enslaved, to my ears they are one of the most consistent bands in ‘underground’ music of any genre. Every 2-2 1/2 years they pump out another masterpiece. I guess I’m a big enough fan not to be objective, but I don’t think anything they’ve done since ‘Below the Lights’ hasn’t been at least a 4/5 if not higher! By about 5 minutes or so into ‘Storm Son’ I had a huge smile on my face, which stayed there until the album was over! To me that’s the sign of a great album!

    • Norwegian viking

      Completly agree with you there.

    • El_Cuervo

      Appreciate the readership mate!

    • PapaRay

      That’s pretty much where I’m at as well. I’m not really a fan of anything they did before Below the Lights. I keep trying though.

      • Brjoro

        I don’t mind the early stuff but its just when I think about listening to Enslaved, there’s so much gold from ‘Below the Lights’ forward that it’s hard to think about NOT listening to one of those!

    • First thanks to all at this site for great reviews, and civilized and mature discussions of this music…
      You may have picked a bad time to say hi.

  • Andres Pintos Nocerino

    great, maybe one of the best of the year

  • Me

    I will always love Axioma. How I wish they had gone in a more doom, atmospheric direction.
    Instead of a new keyboardist they should have hired an editor. Old Opeth could get away with long songs but Enslaved just drones on and on….

  • As a long time Enslaved fan, gotta say E is disappointing. Sorry to see they had to record an album just to get something off their chest. At least that’s the way I feel about this album. RIITIIR got a 2.5 and E is not anywhere near that record in terms of songwriting.

  • Diana

    I also listened up until Vertebrae; but how could you rank the sheer garbage which is Satyricon higher than this.

  • Matt Hunter

    My thoughts on Enslaved line up pretty well with the second review. I’ve given them many fair shakes, and while there are very promising moments, nothing has ever hooked me.

  • Vortexian

    So, the new Unleash The Archers album is better than this? You must be joking. :)

  • Norwegian viking

    I realy cant understand how people dislike this album,i realy cant. Its an nessesary and naturaly evolution for a band who have done more or less the same shit since the 90s. For me they are what opeth are not.

    • RuySan

      Nice romantic avatar. It’s good to know Vikings also have their soft side.

  • Norwegian viking

    And for those sitting on the fence about getting this album because some negative buttholes, buy it! Its the next best thing besides sex….and maybe shitting. Realy good,progressive,epic album that i like as much as ruun and axioma, and waaay better than riitir and in times. There was a guy here who write he think riitir is better than this, must have forget to make a shitt before he wrote the comment i guess….

    • IAmNotKenM

      What would you know about sex?

      Shitting, I’ll bow to your expertise.

  • Bater of masters

    Well the review starts out with a blatant lie and then lies some more.enslaved have had no black metal whatsoever since blodhemn there buddy. Also what retarded Dr scale r u idiots using?? Dr goes from 1-20.deep. And don’t apply Dr to mp3s lol.

  • Diana

    The album is actually a masterpiece. I heard it differently each time I listened; at last I stopped thinking and allowed myself to ride the waves.

  • Jono Schneider

    You guys are so fucking boring. How about you actually listen to what the music is? Actually, don’t. Then I don’t have to waste my time here.

    • El_Cuervo

      Dear Mr. Jono Schneider,

      Thanks for your complaint. As you know, customer satisfaction lies at the heart of what we do here at Angry Metal Guy. We treat any criticisms or recommendations with the utmost sincerity and shall consider your comments carefully. Your issue shall be assigned to one of our specially trained customer satisfaction team who will get back to in 7-10 working days.

      Our deepest apologies and best regards,
      El Cuervo, Customer Satisfaction Line Manager

      • Planex

        I have a complaint, El Cuervo doesn’t take complaints seriously.

        • Dear Nukenado

          Thanks for your complaint. As you know, customer satisfaction lies at the heart of what we do here at Angry Metal Guy. We treat any criticisms or recommendations with the utmost sincerity and shall consider your comments carefully. Your issue shall be assigned to one of our specially trained customer satisfaction team who will get back to in 7-10 working days.

          Our deepest apologies and best regards,
          Master of Muppets, Understudy to HR/Giver of 0.666 Fucks

          • IAmNotKenM

            .666 rounds up to 1. Sucks to be you, now you have to give it.

          • I have to do nothing. I does what I wants, yo.

          • Nukenado

            ???
            Wh… what?

          • I addressed your complaint, yo. It made me chuckle, dammit. Go check out ORM, Shroud Ritual, or Vials of Wrath to soothe thy troubled soul.

          • Nukenado

            That… wasn’t me.
            But I did check out the music.

          • Well, Planex can check them out too. I’m at work and too tired to make sense or read, I banish myself from the interwebz for now.

          • Nukenado

            Good luck!

      • FutureBeyondSatan

        Some ass hung up on me when I called to complain about Incorruptible’s rating. How rude.

  • Enslaved has just never clicked for me. I keep giving them a new chance every time there’s a new album, but only because I like to keep up with the conversation.

    There’s a whole bunch of things that keep me from enjoying this particular album.

    1. The worst offender is the passionless, robotic clean vocals. Even when they’re clearly supposed to be melancholy or beautiful, they evoke nothing but yawning for me.
    2. The growling isn’t too interesting and even quite out of place at times. Storm Son was the worst offender as far as this goes. Clean, mellow backing music coupled with loud, mechanical growls just doesn’t work. I really don’t think they could have put them in any worse place than in that song. Some times you just have to put the growls away until they make musical sense.
    3. The often clumsy song structures get tedious fast. Take idea A, play it 4 to 16 times, then clumsily transition to idea B and repeat. To me, a good metal band transcends this sadly very prevalent bad habit of metal composition.
    4. Many of the individual ideas don’t even grab me at all. There’s some honestly really cool vibes, grooves, riffs and melodies in places, but they’re spread far apart between mountains of autopilot metal prog spam. To me, Ihsahn represents the vibe modern Enslaved is shooting for actually working really well.
    5. I’ve heard more overproduced metal albums. They flood out of the gates every year these days, and this album isn’t the worst offender. It does feel somewhat plastic and flat to listen to a lot of the time though. I really think the louder moments don’t work too well. It’s very slick and professional, but in a modern radio pop sort of way.
    6. Songs drag on. Like modern Metallica.

    I could complain more, but those are the things that bug me the most about this album.

  • Yalcin Inel

    Regarding the Opeth comparison… Well, Opeth had a much more obvious mainstream appeal and did not keep a signature sound for too long IMHO, whereas Enslaved was, is, and probably will always carry their trademark viking black metal of epicness. I do not bash Opeth here. I love Opeth more than I do Enslaved!

    Enslaved to me, just like El cuervo, was a band I really tried very hard to come to terms with. Every try failed until I tried Riitir for the 3453th time and got that famous “click”!!! Still not my favorite band but at least now I can realize what they are aiming to do and E seems like the culmination of their progress. This does not mean it’s the “best” since they’re one of the few bands which doesn’t have a best album among their glorious discography. But E is like their Ghost Reveries, if we have to do a comparison with Opeth. Ghost Reveries IMHO was the peak point of their transformation from death metal with progressive metal influences to progressive metal with death metal influences. E probably is the counterpart of this process in black metal: From black metal with progressive metal influences to progressive metal with black metal influences.

    But I’m quite sure they’ll never release a shocker like Heritage!

  • FutureBeyondSatan

    I bought it, listened to it twice, got two headaches. I had to listen to Ereb Altor and King of Asgard’s new releases to unfuck my ears. Seems to me too many repetitive bars, at times they are genius, others head scratching. A very frustrating listen, in deed.

  • Mollusc

    I like the riffs in the second half of the first track, but the vocal (clean or harsh) don’t do it for me. The FB discussion with some of the Enslaved fanbase (the seemingly militant ones) has been quite amusing. Everyone’s still friends, right!?

  • Hey AMG, Enslaved is a band that I know, why didn’t this get a 5? You people suck!

  • I’ve had the chance to listen through three or four times now and I think it’s fantastic. The first song to click was Hindsight, which is still the probably the highlight for me so far, but the album is a real adventure. Enslaved have developed a sound all of their own and I love it. I hope they don’t pull an Opeth, but I don’t think this album really hints at that. There’s still plenty of aggression here and it’s the combination of different elements that makes it so great.

  • IamRipper

    You didn’t give the average song length for Blodhemn, which was Enslaved’s last good album.

    • RuySan

      Blodhemn is fuckin fantastic but isn’t fair to compare, since they are almost a different band nowadays.

    • basstard

      Said no one with a brain.

  • TheCurlyMetalhead

    I adore you AMG, while I disagree with you, I love the fact that you wrote a legit (as is always the case with AMG) and well articulated review. Now, I have a raging boner for everything Enslaved and of course this album is a masterpiece (to me). Storm Son is my song of the year and E puts such a huge smile on my face. Every time I listen to it I notice something new. There is something special about Enslaved that I just cant help but adore and be in awe everytime they do something… Opeth (until Heritage but I really love PC tho), Devin, Enslaved and a handful of other bands are the only ones capable of doing so. Anyways, awesome stuff as always here. I see a huge comment section below so Im gonna check it out hahahha

  • HeavyMetalHamster

    Start ing the album with an instrumental of Let Down by Radiohead was ballsy.

  • basenjibrian

    This is kind of…boring. Ah, for the glory days of Monumension.

  • Vortexian

    “Ah Enslaved is pretentious and boring, we will do two basically identical reviews to tell you that!”

    * Puts the new Chelsea Wolfe album in top three of the month

  • Metal and Hockey

    Not the best album released this year only because of Cormorant

  • basstard

    The album made me feel high off weed, even though I wasn’t. A sure sign of quality.

    I feel bad for you if you don’t “get” what Enslaved is doing.

  • Mattias Niklasson

    Can’t say that I’ve listened a lot to Enslaved, perhaps 2-5 listens per album and honestly I don’t really find anything memorable after Eld. Except axioma ethica odini (which is my favourite album so far) and few moments sprinkled throughout the later discography, such as:
    the bonus track on Monumension,
    the opening Riffs on the first and last song off Vertebrae,
    parts of One Thousand Years of Rain and Daylight off In Times.

    As for E I am unable to remember a single moment of the album excluding the male choir chanting ‘storm son’. With more time their post-Eld discography might magically click, but man I struggle to find their appeal and yet something with Enslaved keeps pulling me in, it’s strange.

  • Me

    Ok I bought the mp3. Uugh. I never want to hear this crap fest of an album again. Bloated, self indulgent garbage. And I thought In Times was bad. The melotron, the sax, the Mastodon worship.
    I’m off the train. Later.

  • Ultra Joe

    Another first time poster here. I was curious about your review process. Do you guys give several listens over a few days or is it a more of a condensed first impression and vibe thing? I can imagine after all these years and listening to hundreds upon hundreds of metal albums you must become jaded at times..

    Although I feel a 2.0 for this album is a bit harsh, you guys are generally on point. Thanks for all the years of introducing me to great music and keep up the good work.

    Finally I wanted to say that the song “the river’s mouth” is pretty terrible and doesnt even sound like Enslaved.

    • basstard

      I’m not going to form an opinion on this album until at least 10 times through.

  • Artander

    No gnashing of teeth from me about you not being “an objective reviewer”. You provide a very insightful read that is helping me get to grips with my own ambivalence towards this album, ie not “bad” per se, yet nothing that really drags you in… And that is one key reason why AMG is great. Thanks.

  • bustap949

    This album is fantastic. Enslaved isn’t the type of band you just hit play and get instant gratification. you have to listen to each song in the order they meant it and with your full attention. The way the songs progress is amazing.

  • Neon Tusk of Camblor

    I am, most enlightened and wise Sirs and Mesdames, actually quite pleased with this album. You could even say I like it, I like it a lot. However! It’s not yet cracked my top three Enslaved albums, nor my top three Opeth albums. I give it Six thumbs up – which could be either a glowing endorsement or a scathing review if I provided some context, which I sall not.

  • Grawmps

    I’ll take the opposite side of the spectrum of opinions here and say E is the best thing I’ve heard from these guys in a decade or more. All these “progressive” non-black metal elements have finally solidified into something interesting. Love the varied instrumentation too.

  • David Nelson

    Enslaved are certainly an acquired taste. For me, ‘E’ and In Times have been more accessible and ultimately, more enjoyable than the previous plodding beasts, RIITTIR and Axioma…
    To put out, imo, another career best effort while 14 albums in, is pretty remarkable.
    Cheers