Friday, 29 December 2017

Enslaved "E" (2017)

Eight lengthy tracks clocking in at an hour make up this indulgent journey through abysmal rain and thunderous storms in a climate safe from harm. We swing from the calms of gentle, luscious melodies sung from soft synths and glossy pianos as they peak through gristly rock, sturdy distortion guitars in stretches that swell into grim plummets and measured fiery onslaughts of darkness. With gleam and triumph shrouded in ancient mystery the tone is set, a path of heathen spirituality in the roots of mother nature emanates in calmer passageways. Viking choral chants occasionally greet us as we wander through mystic terrain on an epic, inspired journey.

 At this point in their career Enslaved have little to prove, fourteen albums in with a solid track record the band are freed to home in on their craft and forge songs that achieve their inspiration with little to fault. The maturity and expanded pallet lets the core sound flourish with touches of influence that spread as far as Jazz with a saxophone solo on "Hindsight" fitting so snugly into the song it barely makes itself known as an uncommon instrument but rather a perfect touch to illuminate the music. Many Post-Metal guitar sounds emerge with flourishes of shimmering Shoe-gazing leads and even Sludge in scattered guitar grooves that move in menacing lugs of burly force, often accompanied by the harsh scream of Kjellson who doesn't charm with these strained and sterile screams.

These songs are progressive, expansive, they twist and turn, evolving as time passes, making for a wonderful listening experience that's cinematic. Enriched by the layering of soft synths and occasional organs below the guitars, the flavor and aesthetic is sweetened but this chemistry is lost when the album is swept into the stormy dark. Still holding onto their roots, the music often strips itself to the raw components, "Djupet" being a song comprised entirely between the guitars and drums. It makes a little more sense when these Black Metal moments emerge in the sways of wandering songs but shows itself to hold back an otherwise far more intelligent, spell bounding chemistry that is at its best in its denser, melodic compositions.

Rating: 7/10