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Enslaved | ‘In Times’

The problem with having a great back catalogue is one of expectation.

We know Enslaved have hit it out of the park on many occasions. Not just with their early glut of classic Norse BM, but with an engrossing reinvention since.

First things first – ‘In Times’ certainly does not mark another bold progression. What it does represent is perhaps the pinnacle of the sound they’ve been working since ‘Axioma…’.

This is very clearly the band that bought you that record and 2012’s ‘RIITTIIR’. It’s fair to say at this point that they’ve settled into their current sound.

The vocals of keyboardist Larsen are by now well-assured, playing off the croaking howl of frontman Grutle,as textured, crafted metal flows by. There’s an ease and steady movement to the tracks here that is instantly apparent, with each element very much sounding in step.

The frantic attack of ‘Frost’ or the obtuse adventurism of ‘Maradraum’ is a world away from this.

Opens With A Banger

Like all Enslaved albums, it opens with a real banger. Funnily enough, what sets ‘Thurisaz Dreaming’ apart is that it’s not a single killer riff or melody that makes it, but rather how it melds so well as a mosaic of various aspects – sparkling guitar, rich vocals and pulsing keys. The band sound almost at peace within their groove.

‘Building with Fire’ is perhaps the most powerful number on the album. Some nice vocal highlights, and a mean guitar passage underpins the whole thing.

As things progress though, it’s a bit harder to find waypoints amidst the perfectly acceptable, but somewhat samey songs.

Those who fear the band have slipped into a kind of high quality autopilot may have reason to be concerned.

The urgency, the uncertainty and the scope of what set apart records ‘Isa’ are simply not here.

An Irony Of Assurance

There’s a slight hint of it in ‘Nauthir Bleeding’, but for the most part it’s absent, like a ship half sighted in the mist before a rather ham-fisted return to hazy melody slides in to obscure it.

As stated, the real irony of Enslaved in 2015 is that they honestly sound more assured than they’ve ever been.

It’s mildly infuriating. You can tell these tracks have been honed, crafted and had thought poured into them. They’re decent. They’re all pretty much worth listening to.

Perhaps the real question to ask, is if you’ll actually remember any of them down the road? That’s a proposition that’s a bit more doubtful.

Maybe they’re just growing old gracefully. You can’t blame them for that, but you may end up losing interest.

A fate that seems disturbingly possible.

3.3 / 5 – Lorcan Archer ::: 27/03/15

  1. It’s a great album alright. Really lookin forward to catchin em later this year.

  2. It’s a great album and I’ve been spinning it quite regularly. Very much looking forward to the live show.

  3. I can’t lose interest, no way!!! Good album.

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