Friday, November 16, 2012

Initial Impressions: Enslaved: RIITIIR

A few years ago my interest in Enslaved skyrocketed as a result of seeing them in concert with fellow prog-metal masters Opeth.  Prior to that I enjoyed them quite a bit but would not have gone so far as to say that they were one of my favorite bands.  However after that concert, their status was elevated quite a bit.  I developed an appreciation for their sprawling sound with all of its quirks.  Ordinarily the overly progressive metal stuff has not done much for me, but Enslaved has been an exception.  So I look forward to each new Enslaved album.

This one gave me some pause as some individuals that I usually expect to really enjoy Enslaved have not cared as much for it, calling the album a disappointment or even boring.  Nevertheless, I still felt like I had to check it out.  I have heard every single album since Below the Lights and I was not about to start missing albums now.

I think this one is definitely a grower.  Enslaved have stripped away almost all of their black metal sound.  Of course that has been happening for several albums now at this point.  They have stripped away more and more with each release since the aforementioned Below the Lights.  There are still traces here and there, but this is mostly a progressive metal release.

The album does start fairly strong with "Thoughts Like Hammers", but it slows way down for several songs after the opening track.  The next several songs are kind of a blur, before the band picks things back up with "Materal", probably my favorite song on the album.  This is definitely Enslaved.  They do not do anything markedly different from anything they have done on the last several albums.  As such I am not really sure what a lot of the complaints have been about.  I certainly do not feel the same way about this release as some others do.

I would not say that this is one of Enslaved's stronger releases, but I do like it well enough.  I do not think there is anything markedly different this time around.  Is it a masterpiece?  No, but it is good enough.  I find myself enjoying it more and more with each successive listen.

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