ENSLAVED – RIITIIR
Label – Nuclear Blast
Release Date – September 28, 2012
Enslaved needs no introduction to someone who is into progressive viking metal scene. Formed in 1991, Enslaved have gone through numerous line-up changes and along with that, changes in their sound too. They came into spotlight after their second album – Frost, after which they never looked back. In the coming years the band would experiment with their sound, the most prominent being their album – Mardraum (Beyond the Within), released in 2000. This sent shock-waves across the Extreme Metal community for the never before seen experimentation and innovation. The later albums would feature a blend of power, tradition, dark psychedelia and progressive elements. 2008 saw the band releasing their album Vertebrae, which many consider as one of the strongest extreme metal albums ever.
RIITIIR is Enslaved’s 12th studio album and the album is quite a handful when it comes to pleasing the ears. Ranging from dark elements of black metal to serenity, the tracks are beautifully arranged and the album itself is like a story. Just like we have seen before, RIITIIR too is an album full of experiments. Unlike most bands who stick to a specific genre which connects with their fans, Enslaved has been continuously experimenting. And needless to say, they know what they want and what they are actually doing.
The album starts off with “Thoughts Like Hammer”: A perfect example of what they have been doing in recent years, extreme metal intro with a touch of horror element, clean vocals for the progressive parts. At 5:10, a sudden calm transcends. It feels like you’re rejuvenated right after the constant headbanging. “Death in the Eyes of Dawn” is a continuation of “Thoughts Like Hammer”. It offers a more progressive riff with a tad bit brighter sound.
“Veilburner” is a totally different track. A classic Viking Metal intro, the song then moves towards a Hard Rock type vibe, with even a hint of classic Rush in the intro signature. Mixture of clean vocals and harsh vocals at parts makes it sound like a Satanic ritual in progress, with the eerie atmosphere created. “Veilburner” continues with “Roots of the Mountain”. A faster paced song, the mixture of serenity with brutality makes the song stand out, not to forget a killer guitar solo that tells a story in itself.
The title track “RIITIIR” and the next track “Materal” are in my opinion the weakest songs in the whole album. Though they are well above the ordinary when it comes to composition and lyrics, but compared to the level that Enslaved created on this album, they sound a little below par. “Storm of Memories” has a more punk oriented riff. A very ambient track, something that reminds me of their older albums. Typical black metal style alternate picking riffs and blast beats make the majority of this track. The progressive touch later on, calms down the raged mind again.
The last track “Forsaken” is a gem of a song. A true musical masterpiece, and that is the least I can say about this track. Starting with an eerie broken piano intro, this song features almost everything that Enslaved have done throughout these two decades. The old ambient sound can be found in many parts of the song. The real fun comes from 7:10 till the end. This can make even the happiest person in the world break into tears. With the clean guitar going one throughout this part, add some clean vocals to the chemical mixture and this concoction has too much feeling in it to change someone’s mood in a matter of seconds. Enslaved, take a bow.
The Bottom-Line: After winning almost community wide year-end award honors for their 2010 triumph, Axioma Ethica Odini, Enslaved have returned with another epic beast in RIITIIR that proves they are still on top of their game. They know what they are doing and they leave no stone unturned to nail it. The mood swings and the dark sounds make this album almost flawless. A must listen. A must buy.