The Norwegians around the former GORGOROTH-front-screamer Pest have thrown all the synthesizer-ballast that could be found on "Soulblight" over-board for their latest effort, handily titled "The Shepherd And The Hounds Of Hell" and now combine their gnarled Melodic Black Metal with the hymnics of Heavy Metal - and excel!
The opener "Scrolls Of The Shadowland" already shows that the blastbeat-parts (thankfully) have been reduced a lot and that Torquemada is allowed to shoot his great stitching-machine-double-bass through the speakers. Also Pest now varies his mean vocals and implements his surprisingly well-sounding clear voice, further complementing the hymnic melody-lines of the guitars. Also in the following tracks they cleverly vary speed, heaviness and intensity, combine brutality and majestic melodies, completely without keyboards and despite sitting between all the chairs, they still reign supreme! "Millennium Beast (Awaiting The Feast)" should be exceptionally mentioned, between aggressive and emotional, gruff and clean vocals, wild fury and powerfully driving double-bass...
The title-track then is the ultimative hymn, which sets the pace with mid-tempo-double-bass, then adding highly melodious guitars, then croaky vocals, before attacking the unsuspecting listener with a high-speed-assault. After that a quiet part with clear vocals follows, just to gain on intensity towards the end again.
Without doubt the peak of their career so far, OBTAINED ENSLAVEMENT have produced an album in "The Shepherd And The Hounds Of Hell" that their genre-colleagues will have to gnaw on for a long time!