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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A truly breathtaking piece of Progressive Black Metal,
After the outstanding achievement of their 2008 album 'Vertebrae', Norway's finest Progressive Viking Black Metal overlords Enslaved released their eagerly anticipated eleventh album in September of 2010. The intriguingly suggestive title is a vague stitching of ideas from the Latin word 'Axiom' (vaguely meaning an 'unquestionable truth against proven scientific fact') with Ethica Odini (taken from an Old Norse poem entitled Hávamál) which bluntly translates as 'The Ethics of Odin' (the Norse God). Together, the title forms a loosely translated understanding - The principal truth behind the ethics of Odin. Stripped to the bones and broken down to its underlying essence, it can be interpreted (at a very base level) as 'the fundamental spiritual belief that stands against modern day scientific fact'. It's a title and album concept for those that choose to believe in something more than the clinically barbaric nature of modern science.
As is with the very core of Enslaved's nature, the band has once again evolved with their ever progressive and intelligently ambitious sound. Axioma Ethica Odini carves out a deeper directional route for the band; merging together and mapping out a vast array of layers and musical ideas to form this unquestionably intriguing and inspired album. What instantly sits forward from the music is how effortlessly this all seems to sit together. On a song by song basis, the rigidly cut structures of the music somehow lies in harmony with each segmental piece. As diverse as the many progressive elements to each track are, the production and undeniably involved thought process that has gone into their formation, has brought out some of the most enchanting and engaging progressive black metal that can be conceived.
Enchanting is a strange word to use when describing any of Enslaved's music - none more so than with Axioma Ethica Odini. However, the way in which the musical layers and near-trademark complexities of the song structures are brought together, has this enchanting and instantly captivating appeal. That said, you never need to work hard with Enslaved to reap the rewards of the music (as with a band like Tool for instance). Instead, the music seems to elaborate in a piece by piece way, gradually infiltrating the depths (and natural quirks) of each song over time. The process seems effortless and (for want of another word) once again entirely natural.
Enslaved have seemingly formed an organic shell around their music. The coarse guttural growling of Grutle Kjellson rests perfectly upon the solid and dense shoulders of chunky guitar riffage and the ever-present sturdy basslines. The prog elements are very much in the thick of the album's construction, but Enslaved have craftly pulled back a gear from `Vertebrae' to once again embrace a more enriched and bold Norwegian Black Metal sound.
The calming air of the ambient track `Axioma' mid-way through the album allows the listener to come up for air, to bask in a peaceful atmosphere of lucid dreams and strange far-off messages passed over the soothing waves of Herbrand Larsen's synthetic tones. With the senses now relaxed, Enslaved emerge once again with their powerful and immediate sound, clawing through the thick air and standing tall upon their Black Metal ground once again.
As a whole Axioma Ethica Odini could perhaps be compared as the musical equivalent of a very good single malt (another one of my personal passions in life). There are undoubtedly complexities at work within its structure, depth to be explored, with a thousand contrasting elements all working in relative harmony. Familiarising yourself with it unlocks these deeper, more subtle qualities, allowing you to become immersed into the warmth within the many layers.
Enslaved, as always, employs an almost living and breathing mythological soul that embodies all of their music. With that said, the album quietly brings forth a parody on the complexities of human existence. Life in turmoil? Life in retreat? Life with the unforgiving background of our own morality? Too sentimental, too abstract, too overanalysed??? - perhaps! But it's what listening to these later offerings from Enslaved does. It seems to open doors with unending questions.
Ending with the near-epic journey undertaken with 'Night Sight' and then ultimately with 'Lightening', Enslaved fulfil an unspoken promise in delivering an album of constantly shifting proportions, which takes the listener on a haunting and mesmerising journey. And that's exactly what this album is - a journey.
The special edition version of the album comes packaged in a 7" card gatefold sleeve that also houses a exclusive two-track record. A single fold-out sheet is included giving the lyrics to all the tacks (including the two additional ones) as well as the usual thanks and production notes.
The 7" vinyl that is included with the special edition version of the album includes the following two tracks that were specially recorded in the woods of Valevåg:
Side A: Jotunblod (Doom)
Side B: Migration
Jotunblod (Doom) is basically a reworking of the classic track (from Enslaved's second album 'Frost'). This re-working of the song was originally recorded for Roadburn Festival 2010 and as such honours the festival's 'doom' orientation. Sluggish and brutally heavy, the new re-working of Jotunblod strips down the maelstrom of the original's high-intensity, and thrusts it into a whole new direction, which captures the same powerfully unstoppable feel (and indeed concept) to the track, whilst elaborating and adapting the final outcome of the song. In a nutshell - inspired Enslaved musical genius!
The second track on the 7" record is the song 'Migration' that until now had been a song that the band only ever played live - as part of their collaboration with the Norwegian extreme-experimental-jazz band 'Shining' for the Armageddon Concerto at the Molde International Jazz Fest in 2008. This recording is nothing short of utterly overwhelming. It shows Enslaved's side to the musical tale, pulsing with energy and a stomach churning atmosphere.
The inclusion of these two insightful and inspirational tracks is what makes the special edition such an important and dare I say triumphant release. Even the fact that the two tracks are presented on vinyl as opposed to CD format, simply adds an element of 'musical history and affectionate nostalgia' to the release.
For those who know and love the evolving story of this unique band, the special edition presentation is an absolute necessity.
Once again, the album incorporates starkly suggestive and emotive artwork by Norwegian artist Truls Espedal.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dark and Light,
This review is from: Axioma Ethica Odini (Audio CD)
In short this is my first and so far only foray into Enslaved's music; and I like it. I can't remember where or when I decided to "give it a go" but I did and don't regret it. I find it satisfying to finally understand what can be initially challenging or incomprehensible music of any genre (jazz, classical etc) and on first listen Enslaved certainly fall into both of those descriptions.
Having read many Enslaved-reviews none really describe the music other than the reviewers like/dislike for the latest release so I will try and give the inquisitive a clue.
I find the many labels of the Heavy Metal sub-genre culture pretty unhelpful and I have seen Enslaved described as being part of the Black, Death, Viking, Progressive and/or Norwegian Metal "movement/s" at any one time. Quite frankly I don't know; and what does a label mean anyway? Except in a 'short hand' description and I am pretty sure Enslaved would probably feel they straddle more than one narrow musical area, if not define an area of their own. Let's just say - on the evidence of this album - that they fit in the wider area of Heavy Metal, on the extreme edges. If you are offended by anything louder than Bon Jovi; think Metallica should be shot and have never heard of Sepultura...this is probably not for you. For your own health click-away now!
I would guess that atmospherics and song structure are most important to Enslaved and while they are a guitar centric band, their music is not dominated by the `riffer-rama' and shredding of other metal bands.
A particular approach they favour is the "Lets start-off with white noise...and then go into something more considered and melodic". They do this a number of times and sometimes to good effect getting a good complimentary balance between light and dark but also sometimes I do wonder what was the point of having 30 seconds of screaming followed by a perfectly good song structure or riff when the first 30 seconds doesn't seem to add anything other than to make me think "what the f***!"
Many observers/reviewers make direct comparison with `70's progressive rock. I don't hear that at all; if they mean the likes of Yes, Genesis, ELP, Rick Wakeman and Jethro Tull and the concept albums they used to produced, Enslaved are obviously a million-miles away from them musically but also in scale and ambition, in fact I think Enslaved could be great at producing a concept album in their own distinctive style. An eleven minute song doesn't make a concept.
Upon first listen Enslaved can come across as white-noise but with a great mix of complimentary melodies
Duets (uh!??); probably not a musical term you hear regularly with heavy metal and yet that is a key feature of Enslaved's style; not your Kenny Rogers/Tammy Wynnette smooching ballads but regularly through this album songs have two vocalists one a sort of gruff-shout singing-Orc with a complimentary melodic singer. Sounds pretty rubbish on paper but really effective aurally.
There are credits for keyboard/synths on the album. Apart from Axioma you probably wouldn't know it.
Having had this album a couple of years now it is a regular listen. I think Enslaved are an exceptional band with a great creativity and dramatic focus that I haven't heard from others. They are unlikely to be a household name or make it into the big-time which probably suits them fine but I do believe that with a bit more considered production they could produce a genuinely excellent (concept?) album that would make their name beyond their current fan base.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another fine album,
This review is from: Acioma Ethica Odini (Audio CD)
Enslaved are back again with their eleventh album.Eleven albums since 1994,they just don't sleep.For me they get better and better.The first track is one of their best,a masterful fusion of blackprog that makes you feel like the universe is pulling you through time and space and the rest is just as good.
More clean vocals are present which I say is a good thing as I grow weary of purely raspy singing.Clean vocals just give more emotional and multidimensional power than rasps although the rasp that are there provide a link to the more earthy roots of the band.
Like the band say to their detractors that expect them to sound like they did fifteen years ago,it's more true to sound like they do now than young bands copying the style of 1991 and old bands plying the same old same old.
Enslaved encompass mythology,power,noise,melody and an indefinable cosmic yearning,a veteran band that still has more life than most other bands in any genre (although Killing Joke are still the gods).
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The waiting is over....and it's a(nother) Masterpiece.,
This review is from: Acioma Ethica Odini (Audio CD)
During the run up to the release of a new album by Enslaved, I become a little nervous. Will this be the one where they drop the ball? Will my level of expectation not be met this time? Well, time to breathe that sigh of relief. Luckily, Axioma Ethica Odini not only meets my expectations, it's left them smashed and broken. Thank the Norse Gods. It's simply stunning. Multi-layered, which like all Enslaved releases becomes ever more intriguing with each listen, it's a beast of a record. The introduction of more clean vocals from Herbrand Larsen is, for me, the icing on the cake. I love Isa, Ruun and Vertebrae with all my heart and are all classics, but this just feels like the album Enslaved were born to make. Picking out individual tracks is tempting but ultimately will do this a diservice, as like all great works of art it deserves your undivided attention from start to finish, and only really reveals its charms after living in it's company for a week or two. Now this is all well and good, but I now start the painful path to the next Enslaved album, and the possibility of disappointment, but on the strength of Axioma Ethica Odini, the Norwegian's are far from running out of ideas.
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb Album,
This review is from: Axioma Ethica Odini (MP3 Download)
Transfixing and hypnotising black metal that leaves you in a trance like state. Excellently complex and heavy sound. Would recommend to anyone who likes prog, death, or black metal.
5.0 out of 5 stars Great music!,
One of my absolute favorite albums of all time. Awesome music, awesome vocals, awesome "wrapping". Buy it! Don`t be a square...
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars growly progrock anyone?,
Now I'm not normally a fan of the "growly" vocal style so favoured by a lot of bands of this ilk but Enslaved had me hooked since I listened to the title track on a promo disc A collection of songs that for all their "heaveiness" never lose sight of a good melody And yes,with all the light and shade on display here the mood does indeed feel "proggy" So if you like latter day Opeth you'll appreciate this A top notch album from a band that'll hopefully continue along this path
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'A Masterpiece',
This review is from: Axioma Ethica Odini (MP3 Download)
Didn't really know what direction this band were going to take after 'Vertebrae' or whether they could surpass the high standards they have set themselves over the years.... and then came Axioma Ethica Odini - a true masterpiece. Its complex, catchy and sends your emotions into overdrive. This album really is amazing and its hard to select one song that stands above the rest, although at a push i'd be inclined towards 'Giants'. If you like progressive extreme metal then this is a 'must buy' and already a 'classic'!
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