Enslaved - _Axioma Ethica Odini_
(Nuclear Blast, 2010)
by: Aaron McKay (9.5 out of 10)
1994's _Frost_ cemented this soon-to-be overwhelmingly consequential Norwegian outfit in the annals of black metal forever. What more imposing than keeping up with your own forged reputation?

_Frost_ was followed by incredibly forcefully authoritative _Eld_ in 1997, _Blodhemn_ quickly turned up in 1998. After that, _Mardraum - Beyond the Within_ was unleashed in 2000, the more deathy-than-Viking-black metal effort _Monumension_in 2001. With a return to the somber roots effort on _Below the Lights_ in 2003, the progressively intense and refocused _Isa_ in 2004 surfaced yielding to the somewhat less than celebrated _Ruun_ in 2006 and the challengingly compelling _Vertebrae_ in 2008. The newest juggernaut release, _Axioma Ethica Odini_, marks Enslaved's eleventh full-length album.

Some would say Enslaved utilizes a craft and musical style unto them alone. Others would say they morph and meld wide-reaching techniques into their own form. With _Axioma Ethica Odini_, Enslaved launches a new beginning, disregarding whatever the "rules" are altogether, and redefines their version of metal for colleagues and fans alike.

As stylishly chameleon-like Enslaved ultimately may be, theoretically and arguably they may have shifted into a position where topping _AEO_ may prove to be extraordinarily difficult to pull off. This is truly a brilliant and accomplished effort from these titans in the metal community.

Enslaved have managed to bring all of their notable and considerable focus, experience and gifted aptitude to bear on _Axioma Ethica Odini_. Their clean sung vocals, smoothly melodious passages supply counterbalance prominence to the harshly blackened, throaty delivered lyrics.

Initiating the onslaught on _AEO_ with the fiercely enticing "Ethica Odini" mixes heavy passages with Enslaved's remarkable yet infectious guitar style. This approach is perfectly accentuated by a devastating follow-on cut called "Raidho". "Waruun", track three, exhibits Enslaved's brilliant poundingly chunkier side with a welcomed air of mood and atmosphere. "The Beacon" offers the best representation of this five piece's black metal penchant whereas "Axioma", the fifth track, serves as an entryway toward an aura of unreality during its two minutes and twenty second duration. The magnificently overreaching "Giants" unfolds with a gripping power and majesty, whereas probably the most unforgettable song offered on _Axioma Ethica Odini_, "Singular", dominates for the next nearly eight minutes; "Singular" melds all of Enslaved's finest talents, experiences and abilities into this one superbly defining track. The genteel recitation of "Night Sight" blooms effortless until exploding into the next best illustration of Enslaved's black metal prowess found on _AEO_ a la _The Olden Domain_ flavored Borknagar. Ending on a mixed tempo, but driving, yet stirring triumphant conclusion, "Lightening" takes _AEO_ out with one helluva roar.

_Axioma Ethica Odini_ has supplied Enslaved's finest hour to date. The material created and executed by Grutle Kjellson and Ivar Bjornson is nearly unparalleled. Arve Isdal's astounding guitars, Herbrand Larsen's synth / keyboards and Cato Bekkevold's percussion make this album one of the most outstanding of 2010. Topping _Axioma Ethica Odini_ will be a feat not easily accomplished, and a challenge only Enslaved could attempt.

Contact: http://www.myspace.com/enslaved

(article published 6/2/2011)

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