After the rather average 'Below the Lights', Enslaved have started giving the impression that there's a little fire in their bellies again. I'll assume that anyone reading is familiar with their back catalogue so i'll skip their 'brief history'. In my humble opinion "Eld' was their most interesting work with 'Monumension' a close second. 'Isa' is a nice mixture of old & new, my only real compliant is the rather heavily triggered drumming. The drummer himself is not at all bad - certainly not as great as Dirge Rep at his peak - but certainly pretty decent. However, if really 'clean' production sits badly in your blackened hearts then this may disappoint somewhat. The cynic in me certainly sees that Enslaved have taken a leaf out of Satyricon's book by crossing-over somewhat into a slightly more accessible sound. Anyway, these a minor nit-picks - the album is good for sure with a few nice surprises thrown in for good measure, just don't expect a 'classic'.
For those of you anxiously waiting for Satyricon's follow-up to Volcano should look no further than Enslaved's Isa. Man, what a record! This can best be described as a cross between heavyweighters like Isis or Noxagt and classic To Mega Therion-era Celtic Frost. Absolutely monumental riffs and build-ups! Let's get one thing straight first. This is NOT black metal. Enslaved are not and have never been black metal (something the band members themselves often confess to in interviews). I'm glad the band distance themselves from this knucklehead genre obsessed with image rather than songs. Isa contains (at least) two down right "hits": Lunar Force and the title track. Interestingly enough Nocturno Culto (from Dark Throne) shows up on the latter as well as Bounded By Allegiance. Probably the best two tracks on the album. What a treat. Can't wait to see these guys at the Inferno Festival in London in January 2005.