Enslaved - _In Times_
(Nuclear Blast, 2015)
by: Julia Semprich (9 out of 10)
During an interview about Enslaved's new release _In Times_, composer and guitarist Ivar Bjørnson says the opener "Thurisaz Dreaming" is like "hands coming out of the speakers grabbing hold of you and giving you the choice of going along for the whole trip or hit stop, because that's how intense the album is going to be". I encourage you to keep on listening, because this album is everything you'd expect Enslaved to deliver: black, gloomy, aggressive, extreme, but also atmospheric, progressive and innovative.

Enslaved certainly know how to get the listener's attention right from the start. Within the first few seconds of "Thurisaz Dreaming" you have Grutle Kjellson growling in your ear, supported by aggressive and gloomy guitar riffs clearly resorting to the band's black metal roots. This dark atmosphere is only interrupted by interludes of Larsen's clean vocals, sometimes supported by additional backing vocals. The song ends in an almost meditative repetition of the same gloomy sequence. Compared to this opener, "Building With Fire" is nearly tame, flowing with a rocky rhythm and melodic, clean vocals. It features slower guitar and bass solos in the middle section before picking up speed again. The intro of "One Thousand Years of Rain" aims to represent rain musically, but the song soon picks up in speed with alternating high and low growls and clean vocals. "Nauthir Bleeding" is named after the tenth rune, which represents conflict, urgency and distress. Here Enslaved develop even more complexity with changes in tempi and style undulating from atmospheric passages with synthesizers to more aggressive sections with extreme growling and heavy guitars. The title song starts with a long instrumental intro before unravelling itself into another progressive masterpiece. "Daylight" continues in a similar style, but with more focus on slower, meditative passages.

None of the six tracks gets boring despite their exceptional length (no track is shorter than eight minutes). Once again Enslaved managed to spike their album with lots of complexity and musical variety. The growling is deep and screeching, the guitars jump from monotonous to playful solos, the drumming varies from speedy to very individual, and the keyboards are not used excessively but expertly. It seems that _In Times_ represents a summary of Enslaved's musical history, moving from the very black "Thurisaz Dreaming" to the progressive and atmospheric "Daylight". As with the previous albums, it will take a little while to grasp the intricacies of the new album, but it's certainly worth the effort.

Contact: http://www.enslaved.no/

(article published 29/3/2015)

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