Seeing the release of their 14th studio album is ENSLAVED with E. The band have been pushing out fantastic quality albums for almost three decades now and with the past few releases the band have been adopted a more progressive vibe to their music, E only pushes that further. With a slight change in line-up, the new record is set to change the course in what defines ENSLAVED musically for the future.
Opening E is the epic Storm Son at just under 11-minutes in length, the ambient beginnings trickle in and it becomes clear that the more progressive side to ENSLAVED is highly prominent. It takes a while before it starts to really kick in and it begs the question whether it really needs to be that extensive but as it continues and layers build on top of one another it creates a soundscape of the elegance of extreme metal infusing with the complexities of the progressive side.
It’s notable that there is an absence in the air with this album, Herbrand Larsen’s vocals were a staple in the sound of ENSLAVED but new addition Håkon Vinje has delivered something new to the table. It once again highlights to move towards a more progressive sound as Vinje has that style more rounded in his voice as opposed to Larsen and whilst the move is not bad, it’s different but it should be embraced.
Quietly creeping in is the third song on the album Sacred Horse, before exploding epically into one of the heaviest songs on the album. Fuelled by furious double kicks and the much tighter vocals of Grutle Kjellson it leans towards the extremer side of their music and is something for fans that prefer this angle the band go for. It’s still got progressive tints oozing out of it but the core and strength of it is sheer extremities and displays the growth of each member in the band, altogether this track highlights the tightness that has formed.
Axis of the Worlds is the ultimate of ENSLAVED toying around with progressive vibes. The intro is almost very 70’s and even tinges throughout and it’s a pinpoint of just how they’re moving on musically, they’re grabbing the bull by the horns and challenging the tamer routes they have taken previously. Feathers of Eolh is another prime example, repetitive beginnings of jazzy undertones but as it progresses the vocals really open it up into something much more atmospheric and soothing, it’s truly something else this song in particular, a beautiful addition to the album.
Hiindsiight closes the album tightly and possibly the most experimental way that the album has seen. Not as experimental as we’ve seen in the past from ENSLAVED but this certainly is up there and shows itself as a superbly strong addition to what the band are good at doing.
E is yet another interesting release from ENSLAVED, it’s got turns in every direction but each lead to the right path it should be on. Every song on this album has a wonderful surprise but it doesn’t stray too far from who the band are. 14 albums on it can be a test to be able to produce something that is truly unique but ENSLAVED have cracked it once again.
E is out October 3 via Nuclear Blast Records
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