Enslaved – In Times
Release date: March 10, 2015
Norway’s Enslaved is a project that I have held in high regard for a few years now. Ever since hearing their 2012 album, RIITIIR, the band has become a part of the music listening rotation. This rotation spans back to their earlier works as well, including Frost and Blodhemn, where Enslaved were traveling down the paths of music containing a more concentrated amount of black metal in the compositions.
As you travel through their discography, you’ll find their music slowly evolving and traveling further from the basic, raw black metal sound, which broke the usual definition of the sub-genre and was soon replaced with the term “extreme metal.” RIITIIR became an instant favorite, due to the swift, majestic passages contrasting with blackened, strained vocals over several minutes in length. I wasn’t sure how the band would be able to follow-up this great album, whether they were thinking of diving back into some of their aforementioned roots or journeying into some unknown territory. These questions become answered in their newest effort, In Times, with sounds of familiarity and unknown.
“Thurisaz Dreaming” kicks off ferocious, layered black metal riffs quickly establishing dominance and power from the get go. This only demonstrates one characteristic of the album that pops up throughout. After this onslaught accompanied by grotesque vocals, provided by Grutle Kjellson, the tone quickly shifts to a more elegant form of what was demonstrated before but layered alongside hypnotizing clean vocals, dispensed by Herbrand Larsen. In the second half of the track, the cleans gain a more epic tone compared to their previous sounds, adding the usual miniscule, yet very important, element that slowly separates the release from others.
“Building With Fire” follows, adding in a post-metal component not often heard if at all, in other creations. Enslaved somehow continue to trek new ground in their songwriting; whether it be sudden changes within every song or how concise and meticulous every single piece of the puzzle fits with one another that becomes more apparent with every listen.
“One Thousand Years of Rain” is by far my favorite track, being one of the most diverse on In Times. Cato Bekkevold’s percussive skills are a most notable modifier, always adding just the right amount of intensity to the mix without impeding on the others. Ivar Bjornson and Ice Dale’s guitars should be observed as well. To the naked ear, the riffs and melodies come off as simple, but with further inspection one can hear how fast these change from one spectrum to the other.
In Times wouldn’t be a true Enslaved album without an epic-esque track. “Nauthir Bleeding” is said track and is definitely one to check out. Another favorite, “Nauthir Bleeding” encompasses the band’s sound and kicks it up by more than just a notch.
“In Times” and “Daylight” round out the album and differentiate themselves much like the others from the crowd. The album is full of surprises and hidden gems that it’s hard to pinpoint where to start.
In Times is a well-accepted continuation to the band’s career. Enslaved have found more ways to sound different yet the same, which is hard to believe considering how long the band has been in existence. Seeing such an aged vessel still fighting alongside the younger crowd is refreshing in such a weird way. I can’t wait to see what these guys have in store for the next record. Until then, I’ll keep myself submerged with this fine work.