Enslaved
Vertebrae

“Why is it you and not me?” and “but you’re strong enough to live on,” both lines from Destruction pop into my head. I’m undecided if the mighty have fallen or if it is me. On the first few listens the music is too mellow and stripped bare of metalness. I don’t like the new clean vocals, I know they are not really new but if you compare them to “The Crossing” you will hear that they were not quite so whinny then, and certainly not the dominant style on the album, as they are now. I prefer the clean style used on “Neogenesis.” Keeping the harsh vocals as the dominant style has been the key to me still listening at this point.

 

Don’t worry, Vertebrae is just as unapproachable to mainstream music listeners as Frost so no one can throw around the sell out tag. Until they switch to verse chorus verse structure and whine about relationship issues they will still be relevant to metal fans but how relevant depends on your tolerance for bending the boundaries. The list of bands that have moved on to critical acclaim and left me behind is a long one with the likes of Amorphis, Anathama, Therion, My Dying Bride, Arcturus, etc. yet Enslaved moves more and more toward Pink Floyd, a band I have always despised, and I am still here. I think they could record the theme song to Sesame Street and I’d like it. They still remember their origins. No matter how far afield they wander they are always grounded by deep musical roots. After listening to this album I felt the need to pull out Phobia. I swear elements in use today were swirling around in their heads even way back then.

If I rattled off my top twenty five Enslaved songs only one is post Mardraum, and once again nothing off this album will get a spot so I have had to do what many fans do, split at Mardraum, post and pre, and start a new list of favorite songs, to which I think “Reflection” might just join the ranks with “Sigmundskvadet”, “Queen of the Night”, and “The Cromlech Gate” on the tail end of the list.

The first song on Vertebrae that caught my attention was “New Dawn”, and my favorite song would have to be “Reflection,” just amazing. Honorable Mention, “Center,” with its rougher vocals interesting melodies and effortless flow. After living with this disc for a while I have come to the same conclusion I always do. Enslaved are the kings of extreme metal and I am too dense to remember this. I’ll have to erect a rune stone to that effect here in my dooryard so I don’t have to go through all this brain warping next time.

After writing this review I went to the Enslaved website to snag the cover art and discovered this gem: “Vertebrae is a travel through the history of the band, looking both back to the roots of grim black metal and into the future of progressive melancholy ala Tool and Pink Floyd.” That is really all you needed to know.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Grimulfr
October 2nd, 2008

Comments

  1. Commented by: Nick

    haha, good review, i thought it was their best since Mardraum, i really did. They will never be the Vikingligr Veldi enslaved again, but unlike some bands, they do still hold true to their original sound.


  2. Commented by: Cynicgods

    Respectable review from a person that didn’t like the album and hates Pink Floyd. That’s why I like reading your thoughts, Grim. Kudos.


  3. Commented by: axiom

    Good review, parallels my own feelings. They have that strength of still keeping that unnamable spirit (Norse occultism?) in their sound.


  4. Commented by: Dimaension X

    I like the album and overall sound – how long can you continue being grim and evil? Ya gotta grow up a bit sometimes. Still some quality metal here, with the depth and authority of mature and skilled musicians, without sounding like old farts.


  5. Commented by: gabaghoul

    glad you were open-minded about it even though I suspect the post-Mardraum shift has been disappointing for you.

    me, I think this is less engaging and exciting than Isa or Ruun. trying to be too progressive but lost some of that intensity along the way. in some respects it reminds me of Monumension, an album I think starts off with some stellar material but then gets lost in itself.

    this’ll probably be top 10 for me but Ruun was #2 for me in 06, I think this will be lower down.


  6. Commented by: bast

    Can´t wait to have this in my hands \m/


  7. Commented by: Head Ov Metal

    Did you like Trinacria?


  8. Commented by: Grimulfr

    Did you like Trinacria?

    Quite a bit actually, though I have not had the time to go back and listen to it for several months. The programming is a little too much of a distraction from the droning though


  9. Commented by: Erik Thomas

    I heard the new one today- i like it so far, i really need to go back and check these guys out since the split with Emperor was the last thing i heard.


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