Thursday, December 21, 2017

Enslaved: E (2017)

Enslaved will always hold a special place in my heart as they were the opening band in the first extreme metal concert I ever attended (Opeth was the headliner).  It was also the first real metal concert I saw with the woman who would become my wife, I am not counting the Trans-Siberian Orchestra concert here.  On top of that, the band has simply never really disappointed me.  So each time the band releases a new album, I pick it up quickly.  Here we are again.

Now, at this point in their careers, Enslaved have fully embraced the progressive elements of their sound while all but completely ditching their black metal influences.  The only signs that this was ever a black metal band are the occasional raspy vocals.  Growth is fine when the band is able to continue to put out interesting material, and that is where Enslaved excels.

I had a little bit of a concern that this album would not be quite up to snuff.  It definitely does not start out strong.  The first song opens with a couple of minutes of meandering noise, and my concern grew.  But the concerns were quickly dashed when "Storm Son" turned out to be an incredibly compelling and powerful song.  It is a longer track, but features most of the necessary elements for Enslaved's progressive metal output, and the heavier moments are particularly captivating.  Then the second track, "The River's Mouth" kicks in, and it is easily one of the best Enslaved songs in years, and THAT is saying something.

If anything, this is one of the catchier Enslaved albums.  The aforementioned songs, as well as "Axis of the Worlds" are some of the band's most infectious songs ever.  And I say that as a huge fan of the band.  They do tend to carry on some sections a little longer than I would prefer, but that is really something that the band has always done.  It is a little more restrained this time around though.

Despite the rather slow start to the album, honestly this is one of my favorite albums the band has released since departing from their black metal roots.  And again, that is really saying something, because this band has released some excellent albums.

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