Against all redundant music rules and limited categorizations, Norway’s finest Enslaved is a band that has courageously embraced a gradual yet radical sonic evolution that reaches an intriguing high point with the darkly enigmatic progressive tonalities of “E”, the new full length which also introduces new keyboard master and clean vocalist Håkon Vinje.
Conceptually inspired by the duality of man and nature “Storm Son” is a grandiose album opener, almost an opus on its own, as it is infused with poetic melancholy carefully embedded in the epic instrumental progressions. Lavish minimalist guitar melodies, soothing clean vocals and solemn choirs evoke introspective feelings while impossibly venomous growls supported by crunchy syncopated guitar riffs provide a dark contrast. In the midst of fascinating, quite complex, music tapestries the prog oriented melodic guitars spontaneously flow into harsh rhythmic sections reminiscent of traditional black metal.
“The River’s Mouth” is a particularly intense track that will stand out immediately due to its inner blackened Nordic force obviously amplified by Grutle Kjellson’s inflamed vocal delivery. Even if the heavier guitar riffing crescendo maintains a dominant role, Enslaved provides additional music diversity with well structured progressive melodic passages that carry a poignant darkened soul.
“Sacred Horse” holds haunting mystical vibes beginning with brief acoustic echoes that introduce a rightfully savage guitar driven assault but the surprising highlight might be found in the psychedelic keyboards arrangements/melodies that channel fashionable vintage rock splendor. Towards the end, cathartic Norse style chants portray an ancient spiritual realm that naturally embraces a detailed round of guitar melodies.
“Feathers Of Eolh” goes full blown prog for a while with refined multifaceted guitar work but still offers darker evocative atmospheric nuances particularly enhanced by soulful clean vocals and nostalgia infused keyboards layers. Occasionally Enslaved shifts focus to unleash a fervent series of thick guitar riffs or to diversify the song’s structure with thrilling borderline experimental progressions.
Guitarist & songwriter Ivar Bjørnson once again leads Enslaved through a philosophical sonic catharsis as the eclectic blend of several intriguing influences, such as atmospheric shoegaze and heavier Viking metal, truly impress the listeners and nothing on this album sounds forced or out of place providing instead hypnotizing songwriting fluidity.