Enslaved - _RIITIIR_
(Nuclear Blast, 2012)
by: Johnathan A. Carbon (7.5 out of 10)
I know nothing about Enslaved. Alright, I may know a little, but nowhere near the level required by this Norwegian progressive Viking metal band. I only admit this in my review because I feel it is not only unethical to feign knowledge, but dammed near impossible to do so with Enslaved. Upon first listen into the band's twelfth studio record _RIITIIR_, I found myself overwhelmed with questions. When did this band start using clean vocals? What the hell have I missed in these twenty years? Where am I?

Part of my guilt with Enslaved is due to the fact the band has received so much critical attention for their work since their black metal departure. While Enslaved has retained some aspects of black metal, their embrace of Nordic themes, progressive elements, and even psychedelic undertones has transformed this one time understudy into a premiere player. On what stage we perform on, I do not know. What I am knowledgeable of is the fact that despite my lack of Enslaved history, _RIITIIR_ makes itself accessible to newcomers and offers a chance to get acquainted with a long lost friend.

The combination of harsh and clean vocals is something that runs through the very center of progressive metal. If I were to hazard a guess as to why, I would pin it to progressive metal's penchant for complexity and emotional flag waving. There is nothing more emotional than crooning undercut by growling. _RIITIIR_ does this almost the entire way through its 67 minute running time. From the very classic second wave snarl to the textbook progressive wail, Enslaved fills as many vocal roles as it does its instrumentation. While citing a progressive metal album's use of varied instrumentation and vocals may not be much a surprise, it is pleasing when it is done so well. _RIITIIR_ throughout its length never ceases to be inviting and intriguing.

I feel I have set myself up to be doomed throughout this review by admitting my shortcomings. I feel I cannot express genuine emotions I had with this record. Throughout _RIITIIR_ there were moments of absolute excitement, including the chorus of "Veilburner" and the climb up "Roots of the Mountain". Enslaved presents a very mortal and mournful disposition. Unlike contemporaries who sometimes protrude the supernatural, Enslaved feels very earthly and real. It is this aspect which makes them so approachable. It is this fact which makes them feel like weathered wood that has seen a thousand storms.

_RIITIIR_ offers a very organic combination of progressive black metal which is offset by cosmic undercurrents. If I were to place any 2012 record as being a part of an Earth based magic cult, it would be this one. What _RIITIIR_ does do is offer a near novice a chance to participate in a record full of talent and craft. I knew none of you before coming to this party, but I leave feeling like I have new friends.

(article published 7/10/2012)

1/16/1999 P Schwarz Enslaved: A Viking Vengeance, in Blood
3/29/2015 J Semprich 9 Enslaved - In Times
2/6/2011 A McKay 9.5 Enslaved - Axioma Ethica Odini
1/31/2009 J Ulrey 8 Enslaved - Vertebrae
5/2/2006 T DePalma 5.5 Enslaved - Ruun
11/29/2004 P Azevedo 8.5 Enslaved - Isa
10/14/2003 P Azevedo 8.5 Enslaved - Below the Lights
1/14/2002 P Azevedo 7.5 Enslaved - Monumension
11/20/2000 C Flaaten 8 Enslaved - Mardraum - Beyond the Within
11/19/1998 P Schwarz 9 Enslaved - Blodhemn
5/13/1997 S Hoeltzel 9 Enslaved - Eld
5/10/1996 S Hoeltzel 7 / 5 Satyricon - The Forest Is My Throne
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12/3/2008 C Burton Enslaved There Is a Sound Made by Boiling Blood
1/14/2002 A Wasylyk Enslaved / Electric Wizard / Macabre / Horde of Worms Murder! Death! Toke!
1/10/2001 D Rocher Morbid Angel / Enslaved / The Crown / Dying Fetus / Behemoth / Hypnos Belated Tales of the Unexpected
8/12/1999 D Rocher Six Feet Under / Mayhem / Vader / Enslaved / Cryptopsy / Nile / Thyrfing / Darkseid Facing the Breton Storm Season
8/12/1999 M Noll Six Feet Under / Vader / Enslaved / Cryptopsy / Nile / Thyrfing Pig's Feet and All Things Yummy
2/5/1997 P Schwarz Dark Tranquillity / Enslaved / Bewitched / Swordmaster / Demoniac / Dellamorte We Must Dominate, We Will Dominate
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