Enslaved - In Times - (9/10)
Published on March 29, 2015
Genre:Black / Progressive Rock
Divided we shall conquer…
Norway’s Enslaved have never been known as a band to take the easy way out or the roads that are being travelled by the majority of other bands. Neither have they been predictable, which has gotten them as much acclaim as their penchant for meshing musical extremes together in a formidable way. In Times is their thirteenth album and while staying true to themselves by keeping the stylistic elements they had been processing over the past couple of albums intact, they are nowhere near standstill or stagnation.
As before black metal and progressive rock form the pillars their tasty musical concoction is built on, but where they had been combining and meshing the two opposing styles before, In Times sees a slight adjustment with a more defined distinction between the two, which surprisingly works just as well as the more integrated approach of the last two albums, but shows continued evolution of the band.
Opener “Thurisaz Dreaming” already lives this paradigm with abrasive black metal passages meeting pure progressive rock parts. Especially the former comes as a surprise, since the Norwegians have not sounded as feral in a long time, and might leave a few of their newer fans dumbstruck at first, it speaks volumes for the band’s talent, though, to be able to pull it all together into a gripping roller coaster through the extremes that throughout it all sounds like Enslaved. “Building with Fire” follows down a similar path, yet in this case embeds the black metal elements into a framework of fairly straight prog rock with some of the best melodies the Norwegians have penned to date, serving as the counterpoint to the opener. Herbrand Larsen’s emotional clear voice acts as the soothing opposite to Grutle Kjellson’s ferocious roar, underlining the different currents within the lengthy compositions (none of which clock in at less than eight minutes) and continuing the dense atmosphere the quintet builds up.
“One Thousand Years of Rain” is the maybe straightest track on In Times, harkening back more to their viking metal era, while the title track takes more of an influence from progressive rock, setting out with a lengthy opening sequence exploring space and sound, before sharp riffing and Kjellson’s vocal chords rip through the dreaminess, bringing both song and listener firmly back down to earth, but returning to the wonderfully catchy chorus time and again.
Easy to digest In Times definitely is not, but that has never been Enslaved’s premise, yet the ease they weave in and out of the different elements makes it less difficult to get into than one would think. One might be able to call In Times the band’s most complete work, since it manages to visit pretty much every stage of their career, from the scorching black metal of their early years over the hymnic viking metal (a genre they played a big role in shaping) to the progressive influences of their later years, it all comes together into an equally complex and simplistic album. Simplistic might be misleading, since even “simple” Enslaved still outweighs many bands out there in terms of complexity, but despite bringing together the juxtaposed extremities of black metal and progressive rock, the more distinct separation of the two makes for a less challenging listen than their last two efforts Axioma Ethica Odini and RIITIIR.
In Times maintains Enslaved’s integrity as mature and border-poking songwriters, where even “business as usual” means pushing envelopes and while not their strongest effort to date, should not disappoint any fans of the band’s later albums by any means and still stands head and shoulders above many, many releases out there!
Never had been a fan of Enslaved but maybe i'll buy the album.
This album really sucks you in. I love the old school Finnish vibe on One Thousand Years of Rain. Reminds me of early Thy Serpent, which is definitely something the world needs more of.