Enslaved ‘Riitiir’ Album Review

It’s been two years since 2010’s wonderful ‘Axioma Ethica Odini’ and now Enslaved are back with their new studio output ‘Riitiir’. Will this new offering from the Norwegians match their previous albums in terms of quality?

One thing that is to be acknowledged with ‘Riitiir’ is the vast improvement of the clean vocals throughout the course of the album. This combined with the typical harsh vocals that matches Enslaved’s previous black metal orientated music offers a truly dynamic experience for the listener.

As previously mentioned Enslaved early studio albums were strictly in the black metal domain but with later offerings transformed to a blend of progressive and black metal. ‘Riitiir’ certainly falls into the second category, this album is heavily progressive. The eight track album all have lengths that certainly fall under the progressive tagline, yet the 1.1 hour album does not drag; with so much going on it keeps the listener hooked. Opening track ‘Thoughts Like Hammers’ offers a brilliant combination of the harsh and clean vocals with a chorus that truly remains in the mind of the listener where as ‘Death in the Eyes of Dawn’ certainly draws the focus towards the music itself with very intricate guitar work showcasing the beauty and emotion towards their music.

As with most black metal bands that focus less on raw energy and more on ambient experience ‘Riitiir’ makes heavy use of their keys player, Herbrand Larson. The keys add an extra level of depth to the music itself which really immerses the listener. Yet its not all ambient immersion throughout, there are moments within this album which really highlights the black metal characteristics to Enslaved. ‘Roots of the Mountain’ has moments which really drive full force to the ears of the listener with double bass pummeling and guitar riffs that drive the listener into rhythmatic headbanging.

Each member of Enslaved really do give their penultimate effort into the musical side of this album. But to note the real steal of the show here is the vocals itself, used by three members of the group; Grutle Kjellson, Ivar Bjørnson and Herbrand Larsen. This triple combination makes Enslaved stand out from the crowd, truly offering a unique opus into the black metal scene.

So does ‘Riitiir’ stand out from the previous albums in Enslaved’s extensive discography? Whilst no new ground breaking musicianship and style is truly offered in this album by now over a 21 year career Enslaved have clearly established their sound. This sound is ever so present with ‘Riitiir’ and that is not a bad thing, why fix what isn’t broken? To conclude, Enslaved’s ‘Riitiir’ is a truly outstanding album and a strong contender for album of the year.

Score: 10/10

Stand out Tracks: Death in the Eyes of Dawn, Thoughts Like Hammers, Roots of the Mountain