Monday, March 30, 2015

Enslaved - In Times

It's about time I got to a metal review. So far, this year has been pretty slow on the music front for me. There's rarely a ton of really compelling metal early in the year, I wanted to take a bit of a break anyway after the year-end-list season, and in the past few months I've had sufficient real life distractions to keep me from spending much time worrying about this blog. I don't want to drift into total inactivity, though, so now it's time to get back on the horse. What better way to do that than with a new release from one of extreme metal's most respected names?

Enslaved are, in case you're new to the metal underground, a black metal band from Norway. They've been around since those early, notorious days of the scene. Over the years, though, they have evolved into an increasingly progressive entity. While some (myself included) have not always seen this progression as a positive thing in stylistic terms, the quality of their musical output has always been beyond reproach. As such, they've avoided most of the criticism most metal bands would receive upon softening their sound. Anyway, their thirteenth album In Times  hit shelves a few weeks ago, so I figured I'd give it a listen.

The basics should already be evident. As always, the musicianship is top-notch, the compositions are complex and well-thought-out, and the style maintains the balance between "black" and "progressive" quite well. If you've listened to an Enslaved album in the past decade, you've got a fairly clear picture of what to expect.

That said, I found myself consistently more engaged this time around than I did with its predecessor RIITIIR. That record was pretty and it was well-executed, but it all felt a little low-energy and dull. Though this is not appreciably "heavier" it does feel as though more energy has gone into its production. The music is more varied and interesting. The compositions are fresher. The band has become more adventurous with the progressive end of things, they've added just the tiniest dash of post-rock atmosphere here and there, and simultaneously they're making better use of their black metal edge. Granted, I've been feeling less metal-y recently, so maybe I'm just more receptive now than I was in the past, but the progressive flair is starting to grow on me.

Overall, this is just a really excellent record. I have yet to get started listening to much new material in 2015, but I can already predict with a fair degree of confidence that this album will find its way onto my year end list.

Grade: A-


  1. I'm intrigued. I also thought the last album was pretty weak, but the one before it was fantastic, so I wasn't sure which way this one would go.