Enslaved
In Times

Enslaved that has really impressed me over the years has been their ability to craft albums that have a completely identity of their own but can only be albums written by Enslaved. I was first introduced to them with the album Isa. It was actually the title track and it’s music video that caught my attention. Equal parts rock and roll, black metal, and minimalist prog (does that even exist?) all combined and filtered through the sieve that is Nordic metal.The video painted a bleak landscape of Scandinavia that perfectly captured what they were about. That is when I became a fan. I delved into their previous releases and truthfully, it’s good stuff, but everything they have done since Monumension is incredibly more interesting. Where In Times fits into their legacy, only time can determine that. What I can say about it is there is a youthful presence of aggression that seems to be evenly tempered with subdued progressive maturity without sacrifice of style or identity.

 At first glance, In Times is a short affair with only 6 tracks. That is a little misleading due to the fact that each track is at least 8 minutes with “In Times” being the lone song to break the 10 minute mark. “Thurisaz Dreaming” opens the album with maniacal speed then takes a slight turn to some midpaced proggy type cleaner parts. Grutle’s vocals haven’t missed a beat over the years and if anything can be said, it’s that they are even more abrasive. I can tell that they aren’t as high pitched as they once were but they seem to be a little more “throaty”. Herbrand’s cleans are very front and center with, at times, sounding like he can give Borknagar a run for their money in the ability to sound beyond majestic. “Building with Fire” follows suit and this song is fucking great. The cleans on this album give this album such an amazing atmosphere and sheen that I can see a lot of “purists” shaking fists and angrily disregarding this as pure blasphemy. I, on the otherhand, welcome it. Variation is always crucial and Enslaved have it in spades. The song is very midpaced in form and function. There’s an actual punk-like bass breakdown midway through the track but the main clean vocal verse seems to be the sun as to which this solar system of a song revolves around.

“One Thousand Years of Rain” has a punkier, ubeat backbone that is interspersed with some choppier, metallic parts but those aren’t very abundant. Herbrand’s vocals are scattered throughout and Grutle handles the bulk of the song. He very much enunciates a lot on this track and, at times, he reminds me of the vocalist from Nekrogoblikon (mainly their first album Goblin Island). It comes off slightly comedic which is unfortunate because I know that wasn’t the intention. I can’t help but make that comparison. The song definitely ends on a good note with some upbeat double bass and heavier guitar that gallops along. “Nauthir Bleeding” starts out very soft with Herbrand’s clean vocals. It seems to be a wholly different band. There’s some layered, barely audble background vocals (that seem to happen a lot on this album that I failed to mention earlier) and then it busts into some very atmospheric metal. The term majestic can certainly be attributed to this part. A scattering of symphonic synths and a really sweet solo solidify this song as probably the strongest on the album. Maybe second strongest. It gains intensity towards the end (pretty much right after the solo) and spends time between the slower midpaced parts and the heavier metallic parts to finish.

The title track could fit in on either Isa or Ruun. It starts off with a choppy guitar riff that isn’t too heavy on the distortion with a reverbed/echoed solo in the background. Some more wailing/singing stuff happens during this. At around the 2:30 mark the vocals and riffage kick in. Grutle seems to be hitting some wonderful lows on this album that tend to follow some of his throatier croaks. There’s an almost Pink Floyd/(later era) Opeth break down part that definitely has spaceey prog rock written all over it. A definite positive for those that expect some random things from Enslaved. “Daylight closes the album out with the most aggressive sound other than “Thurisaz Dreaming”. A very midtempo jaunt with some layered harsh & clean vocals. It reminds me a little bit of Solefald in that aspect but a little less bizarre. A very quiet part occurs around 3:00 that kind of threw me for a loop. An abrupt change in pace, tone, and feeling. It’s borderline post rock. A very interesting sidestep that picks up tempo around 4:20. Some layered cleans and some slightly distorted guitar. The song title is “Daylight” and that fits the feeling that is evoked. A slight Alcest (from their Shelter album) vibe could be gathered. Hopeful, earnest, and very very fucking random. They get back into the aggression around 6:30 and the song seems to have come full circle.

This album, in the realm of Enslaved, is truly a wonderful listen. The musicianship is very much what it has been over the course of the last 6 albums, the vocals are ever evolving/adjusting with age, and the songs are still as Enslaved-ish as ever. If you didn’t care for them before, you won’t care for them now. If you thought that some of their later releases were less than their earlier work, then this album won’t be for you. If you can appreciate what the band has done with their sound and you enjoy taking that journey, then this album is very much worthy of a listen or two. It won’t change minds, blow away expectations, or define a genre. It is what it is and that happens to be a solid entry in a solid lineup of albums by a very interesting band.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Chris S
April 8th, 2015

Comments

  1. Commented by: Andy Synn

    I believe some of those background vocals to which you refer may have been provided by Grutle and Ivar, as when I saw them this weekend they were both providing additional harmonies and backing cleans and chants, when Herbrand was singing. Which was a nice touch, actually.


  2. Commented by: Luke_22

    Nice review. This has received some harsh criticism but I’m personally digging it a lot. More focused than RIITIIR and some amazing stuff on here. One Thousand Years of Rain is exceptional.


  3. Commented by: E. Thomas

    I simply cant get into these guys. ive tried over and over again and gave this album ample listens. they just dont click for me


  4. Commented by: bast

    Superb band.


  5. Commented by: jimmy

    This doesn’t touch the first four albums.


  6. Commented by: gabaghoul

    much more exciting and less dour than RIITIIR, though nothing here hit the emotional heights of “Death in the Eyes of Dawn” or “Roots of the Mountain” from that album. Still, my favorite Enslaved album since Ruun.


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