Enslaved - _Monumension_
(Osmose, 2001)
by: Pedro Azevedo (7.5 out of 10)
This one will require quite a bit of literary paint on the canvas before a reasonably accurate picture can begin to form in the reader's mind -- something that comes as no surprise after _Mardraum - Beyond the Within_ [CoC #50]. With _Monumension_, Enslaved have significantly changed their sound, yet it is still a somewhat logical follow-up to _Mardraum_, in the sense that it expands on _Mardraum_'s experimentation, which itself was based upon its superb predecessor _Blodhemn_'s aggressive style. Unfortunately, while _Mardraum_ was an enjoyable and highly impressive record, _Monumension_ occasionally comes across as too over-the-top in terms of its experimentation, and the album as a whole lacks some focus and consistency. The Viking thread that ran through every Enslaved release isn't very upfront here, and the vocals are now sung in English instead of Norwegian, which is a loss. There is also less black metal and more of a death metal sound, and then there's all the atmospheric, experimental and retro elements (in both a metal and rock sense) that Enslaved have thrown into the mix in a much higher dosage than before. Enslaved treat you to their rocking side and also their mellower, more atmospheric side, plus some older Enslaved to boot; what they fail to do is put it all together as a cohesive record. Most of the album is still very enjoyable and certainly has some remarkable moments worth much more than a 7.5, but the major problem comes from the two tracks Kronheim wrote, plus the outro and the folk-like track that follows. Four tracks totaling over 23 minutes of what is mostly uninteresting material that, in the case of Kronheim's mid-album tracks, severely disrupts the flow of the record. The production also failed to impress me. Overall, this is a record where Enslaved seem to tease the listener with numerous fine passages, only to create a whole that is less enjoyable than their previous output. Whether or not Enslaved are going through an identity crisis, _Monumension_ does prove that they can cover a lot of musical ground; but I'd -really- like them to go back to creating reasonably focused and truly enjoyable records again.

[Paul Schwarz: "Personally, I found _Mardraum_ [CoC #50] an overly incongruous affair: I didn't get it -- though I intend to go back to it now. _Monumension_ I have come to really like a lot. It manages to combine hypnotic intensity -- which occasionally nods towards Pink Floyd-esque psychedelia -- with a clear but gritty metallic thrust which is unpredictable enough to keep you on edge, but grounded enough to draw you in. The best Enslaved since _Eld_ [CoC #20], in my view."]

(article published 14/1/2002)

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