Enslaved – In Times – 9.5/10

(Review originally posted in Nocturnal Hall Magazine. Link to the original can be found here: http://nocturnalhall.com/reviews/E/enslaved_intimes_e.html)

– Over the course of their career, ENSLAVED has moved away from the Norwegian Black Metal scene where they got their start and have become one of the most progressive and consistent bands in all of heavy metal. The change happened in the early 2000s with the addition of new members, and since then they have constantly pushed themselves not only demonstrating the extent of their own capabilities, but also demonstrating the extent of the genre of Black Metal as a whole. Taking more influence from the atmosphere of Pink Floyd than the aggressiveness of bands like Venom, their latest release, In Times, is no exception in terms of their ability to constantly find new ground. The album is 6 tracks long and clocks in at around 53 minutes, and it brings some of the most solid performances of their 20+ years as a band. In Times continues the trends of the past couple of albums, with a higher emphasis on clean vocals than ever before. That being said, they never forget their roots and always remember to include fast and heavy sections that sound like the ENSLAVED of old such as in the album opener, Thurisaz Dreaming. Building With Fire really shows how much keyboardist Herbrand Larsen’s clean vocals have improved since his debut on Isa. Even though most of the tracks are 8 to 9 minutes long, the album has the ability to constantly stay exciting because every member gets their chance to shine. The excellent production makes Grutle’s bass playing and the strings from the keyboards sound more prevalent than past releases. Despite the diversity of sections within each song on the album, they are able to make the whole thing flow cohesively like 1 album, which shows just how talented these musicians are as songwriters. One of the best ENSLAVED releases so far, and one of my favorite releases of the year so far.