PROGRESSIVE Viking metal gods Enslaved are set to drop their 14th full length studio album ‘E’ - before you stampede to order it, Sit back and relax as we take you, track by track, through the mesmerising northern soundscapes of one of Norway’s greatest exports.
The album opener ‘Storm Son’ sets the tone to epic right from the beginning with the sounds of chanting, horns and horses before breaking into a beautiful atmospheric melody you could float down the river to.
It is simply stunning, with an entrancing hook heavy guitar riff, wonderfully written drums and otherworldly singing by new keyboard maestro Håkon Vinje. At just over ten minutes in length there are superb musical twists and turns as the track turns from tranquil to the extreme, as well as the ever present black metal rasps of bass wizard Grutle Kjellson. A truly stunning first track that will have you enthralled from start to glorious finish.
The second track ‘The River’s Mouth’ is incredibly catchy. The guitar work of Ivar Bjørnson and Arve Isdal has a really nice groove and captures that signature Enslaved sound perfectly. Cato Bekkevold’s drumming can be best described as bouncy, dynamic and spacious. You can’t help banging your head along to this one. The contrast between the clean and harsh vocals is a joy to listen to. A definite favourite.
The third track ‘Sacred Horse’ starts of with a short beautiful bar of acoustic guitar work before bursting into intense drumming and seriously heavy riffs. The lead work is understated and fits perfectly into the track. The keyboards drive the song into a fantastic progressive direction and Grutle’s harsh vocals and Håkon’s clean, almost operatic singing collide and compliment each other perfectly. The chanted vocals will have your hair standing on end.
‘Axis of the Worlds’ starts with a great, almost bluesy guitar solo and fretwork so groovy you’ll have your fist in the air. The drumming is amazing, switching effortlessly through time signatures, the fills really make the drums stand out. The dual vocals again are absolutely stunning and the proggy keyboard work just adds another fantastic layer to the music.
‘Feathers of Eolh’ has a really odd beat to it that draws you in. The chanted vocals add a sense of atmosphere to the guitars and drums before the song shifts to a heavier almost black metal style of riffing and tight double bass drumming. The song dances between heavy and mellow with such ease it’s absolutely wondrous. The vocals are hauntingly beautiful and exclusively clean on this track.
The sixth and final track ‘Hiindsiight’ is unbelievably doomy. The slow ominous drumbeat and the crushing guitars giving way to a more upbeat melody before slamming you back into the sludgy mire of despair. The growling vocal attack works wonderfully with the dark brooding riff work. The second half of this eight and a half minute epic cranks up the atmosphere to colossal heights with stunning progressive, almost shoe gaze like guitar work, spine chilling clean vocals, a saxophone (yes you read that right, a saxophone), and enough melodic prowess to make you stop whatever you’re doing, lie down and melt into the floor. This is the kind of end you need for an album this progressive, thought provoking and musically all encompassing.
Enslaved are a band that constantly push musical boundaries and consistently deliver top quality music.
Even with so much expected of them with every release they continue to astound and delight fans in equal measure. ‘E’ is no different in this regard. This is a testament to the longevity and uncompromising nature of one of the most celebrated Norwegian metal bands.
You need this album in your life.
Review by Phil Noonan.
Enslaved's E is available for pre-order now on Nuclear Blast