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Dark and Light,
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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.