Monday, February 22, 2010

Initial Impressions: Enslaved: Vertebrae

Enslaved was touring in support of this album when my fiancee and I saw them last spring. Enslaved had been pushing the boundaries of black metal for quite some time and over the last few albums, most of the black metal aspects of the music have disappeared. What has emerged is a very strong progressive extreme metal sound. Touring with Opeth was quite natural for the band. Both bands have basically abandoned their root sound in favor of progressive experimentation, and both bands have been very successful at it. Enslaved was one of the first bands to really embrace the viking metal sound. It is still evident to this day.

The music on this album sounds essentially like a cross between Pink Floyd, Dream Theater, Opeth, and Norwegian black metal. The vocals are often delivered in a black metal style rasp, but there are often more cleanly sung vocals as well. There is a heavy use of keyboards as a backing instrument, but otherwise, the music is driven by very strong guitar riffs. The drums are thunderous and helped build each song into a powerful experience leaving the listener wanting more.

The songs themselves are somewhat long and winding, but never leave the listener feeling bored. There is a lot going on in any given Enslaved song. The band is one of the more talented bands in progressive metal. The songs do occasionally meander off into psychedelic territory featuring swirling keyboards and lengthy guitar solos, but the music remains very interesting and well-played.

It's difficult to determine which album is Enslaved's best. This album certainly makes a statement for consideration. It is melodic without losing any of the metallic intensity the band has built its career upon. While the band can not be considered a black metal band at this point, they have emerged as a very interesting and musically gifted band.

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