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I know a lot of people don’t like the way certain bands have changed their style of music over the past few years, but sometimes it’s actually for the better. I say this because I feel that Enslaved are one of those bands that have changed for the better. I am a very big fan of this band and consider them one of my favorite bands ever. I liked their early Black/Viking metal albums, but I actually like their past four albums a lot more, especially their latest opus, Isa.
I’ve had the album since it was released and I still can’t stop listening to it. I compiled a list of albums that were my favorite of 2004, and this one was near the top. It’s an outstanding release and quite possibly my favorite release by Enslaved. But I made this list before I really sat down and listened to this album. So if I had the time back, this album would easily be number one.
When I first heard the album before this one, Below The Lights, I was amazed. I didn’t think that the band could get any better than that. I was wrong. They blew me away with Isa. There aren’t a lot of albums that hold a great power over me and keep listening to it over and over. But Isa managed to do this.
The progressive element they used on this album was great, and it was even better with the combination of black metal. The riffs were very well done and kept me listening. But then again, Enslaved have always had great riffs in their songs. But there is just something magical about this album. It’s hard to explain but it’s far better than I had anticipated. I guess that shock element comes into play, because I did not expect an album as good as good as this.
One of the many things I really enjoy about this album is how well and fluently the songs run together. At some points you just get absorbed by the music and you have no idea that the songs are changing and that can be a good thing.
Another thing that really stands out about this release, other than the style change and additions of keys, is Grutle’s vocals, especially his clean vocals. They are all over the place on this album and that makes me happy because I love his clean vocals! For example, near the ending of track four, Ascension, his clean vocals at a certain point give me the chills each and every time I hear it. And there aren’t a lot of vocalists that can do that to me, so I guess that’s a pretty good compliment to Grutle, haha.
Another standout on this album is the guitar work. It’s not just the heavy riffs on this album that are outstanding, but the acoustic riffs and leads are outstanding as well. Take the last 5 or 6 minutes of Neogenesis, they use a lot of bluesy-type guitar solos which are just… wow! Or the acoustic guitars that they use under the electric guitars in Return To Yggdrasil. I know a lot of bands use this, but I think it fits beautifully with the ups and downs in this song in particular.
So needless to say, Enslaved have outdone themselves with this latest album. Chances are, if you’re not a fan of bands who constantly change their style, then you won’t like this album. But for those of you that like Enslaved no matter what, this is a must have!
3 favorite tracks: Isa, Ascension, Neogenesis.