Monday, March 2, 2015

Enslaved: "In Times"

I was getting scared by their last album that the band was heading into an Opeth direction and beginning to go down a proggy road that would never see a blast beat again. I am here to report, the black metal is least to a greater extent than in recent years and more so on the first song than the bulk of the album.  Does this mean the clean vocals are taking a back seat? No. It's a better balance. This is the band's 13th album, putting them three behind Iron Maiden. So they know what to do and how to do it. Musically they can as capable as any band out there. After their sixth album they were beginning to grow beyond the confines of black metal. The folky viking elements are still in the mix.

"Thurisaz Dreaming" prove the band is capable of giving you the best of both world. Progressive and black metal, tied up with a viking bow. They get blasty but introduce dark guitar melodies sweeping in behind it. The clean vocals even strike out with a little more balls to them reaching out of the smooth dead pan Larsen normally sings in. With the keyboardist exploring a wider scope of melodies as the vocals take the spot light this go around.   This stands true for both ends of the spectrum with Kjellson's growls expanding in power and depth.

"Building With Fire" finds the band almost taking more of a rock n roll pacing. A very deliberate mid-pace with clean vocals coasting over it. There was a time when I would have preferred this approach to the snarling vocals . They come in , but the music doesn't get any heavier. Though it might have been predictable if it had. The bass comes through in the jammy break down puts the finishing touches on it in my book.

Yes, the title track does get back into the more Opeth like place and feels less like black metal, though it is still well played and heavy.Six and a half mins in it even drifts into a clean Pink Floyd like part. Here Larsen's vocals really excel. This experimentation does what experimentation should do and takes them out of the formulaic feeling. the good cop bad cop vocal trade off can create.The stomp of the closing "Daylight" epic and invigorated with a viking metal feel. The two vocals styles give a call an response, with the cleans taking more of a  heavily harmonized backing role. It drops down into a post- rock minimal strum. This builds more like a Hum song.The solo gets to play with modes they don't normally dip into which works for me despite it not being metal.

I think they have hit one of the better balances between their more classic sound and the progressive angle they have been going for . I'll go ahead and around this up to a 10. We will see how inspired the songs prove to be after repeat listens. They have always been one of my favorite black metal bands. Killer musicians, I was a little torn with the almost commercial "Building with Fire', but the fact they use such restraint says something.

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