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In 2011 Enslaved – the mighty gods of progressive, extreme metal from Norway – released a couple of EPs, which I must say I would never expect from such high profile band like them. I mean I didn’t know that first league bands still bother about something like EPs, you know? And while “The Sleeping Gods” is just damn impossible to get (some vinyl copies circulate, but the prices are already ridiculously high) I really wanted to get “Thorn” 7”EP. And that’s not because I’m the biggest Enslaved fan ever, but I just do like this band a lot, I collect all their albums and always on vinyl (yet I can’t wait for that awesome debut “Vikingligr Veldi” to be finally released on LP), so by now I have quite a big collection of their releases, all in the first pressings, which I am even more proud of. So, while I don’t listen to their last albums as often as those early ones, I still like them and that’s why I just really wanted to get “Thorn”. This 7”EP contains a couple of exclusive tracks: “Disintegrator” and “Striker” and has been released by Soulseller in a limited quantity of 1000 copies.
I must say that musically Enslaved sounds a bit harsher and more sort of simple on “Thorn” when comparing it to their recent albums. While they still maintain that progressive side of their music, the whole stuff sounds quite like an atmospheric, epic black metal to my ears, but played in quite simplistic, almost primitive way. Take “Disintegrator” for that matter and notice the slowly developing atmosphere in it, all built on basically one motif, where the guitar riff is accompanied by the dreamy keyboard, the whole played in rather slow tempo, what instantly creates that cold, disturbing atmosphere… I wouldn’t go as far as some other reviewers, claiming that with this song Enslaved went back to the roots of the Norwegian black metal (some even mention Burzum??!!), but surely some traces of it are here, but mixed with a lot of progressive or psychedelic rock from the 70’s. “Striker” is pretty much similar, again the tempo is quite slow, but it is even more based on strong keyboard which basically leads the whole music, with almost unhearable guitar riff and accompanied by loud, harsh scream of Grutle… I think I may like this song less than “Disintegrator”, but you know what? After I’ve listened to “Thorn” several times I still feel like I am not 100% convinced and not too enthusiastic about the content of this EP. Sure, a certain quality is there, but somehow both songs are not as thrilling as the stuff from the full length albums – from whichever period of the band’s existence, as I really think they’ve never done a bad album. And when I’ve heard some opinions that Enslaved went into a small reunion with their more black metal past I actually hoped for something what would resemble me “Hordanes Land”, “Frost” or “Eld”. Meanwhile, I’m listening to “Thorn” and I cannot decide between admitting that both songs are OK and solid (even despite how the whole thing has been produced, with the keyboards putted in the front and guitars / bass sometimes almost absent) or this short material is just really fuckin boring. I’m afraid that more and more I listen to it, more I think it’s the latter.
Final rate: 67/100
Why must you be such a good band? This is Enslaved's second ep released in 2011 after "The Sleeping Gods". While "The Sleeping Gods" is a good ep and all, this one is MUCH better. This is not like the progressive black metal Enslaved has been playing since they released "Mardraum: Beyond the Within" back in 2000. It is definitely more of an atmospheric black metal ep, sort of in the vein of (dare I say) Burzum's classic "Hvis Lyset Tar Oss" in that the keyboards are definitely very important and the production is fairly raw and fuzzy. It is almost a return to what Enslaved were doing on their very first two albums entitled "Vikingligr Veldi" and "Frost," both of which were released in 1994.
Now, using predominately the keyboards, this album has a very ambient and atmospheric sound that I myself would have never thought Enslaved would do at this point in their career. Why, you ask? Simply because they have become so big (not sellouts by ANY MEANS!!!!) and one would think their music would become less raw and higher in production value. This little piece of irony is very unusual for this band, and I highly encourage fans of bands such as Summoning, Burzum, Fear Of Eternity, and Walknut to hear it. It would only benefit you guys. Now, back to the instruments. The keyboards, as mentioned before, are pretty much the leads. They make the atmosphere for the most part. The guitars are somewhat obscure, but not to a point where you cannot hear them. They are "satisfyingly distant", if you will. The drums are, well, just mixed in perfectly where you can definitely hear them, but are not overpowering. And finally we arrive at the bass (or as I like to jokingly call the "roadie of the instrument world") is pretty much absent sounding. But, hell, a lot of black metal bands sort of push the bass aside in the mix. It is not uncommon for this to happen. It does not add nor take anything away from this record.
Overall, this VERY SHORT 2 songs (clocking in for a grand total of ALMOST 11 minutes long) is a magnificent little ep that any fan of black metal should hear and most likely eat up.
To be honest, I often don't pay that much attention to EPs, much less care about them. To me, the majority of bands use them either to tease their listeners into wanting a full-length more, or- worse yet- it's where the half-baked material goes, the songs that weren't quite good enough to be seen on a real album. That being said, the concept of a shorter musical listening experience has been gaining some momentum lately in the modern music industry. Especially now with the advent of widespread downloading, a shorter record is now feasible, both for the artist and the listeners themselves. While I do hope that the true album form is never toppled, it's great to hear something new in between longer albums that keeps me excited about what a band is doing, and Norway's Enslaved is doing just that. Earlier this year, they released 'The Sleeping Gods', a five song mini-album that was released freely and was quite impressive, especially from the fact that it was produced only months after their big opus 'Axioma Ethica Odini'. Now, a few months later, Enslaved follows up 'The Sleeping Gods' with a second EP, this time a two-song deal called 'Thorn'. While a release that is scarcely over ten minutes long would rarely stir anything in me, I have found myself very attracted to the new sounds that Enslaved are dabbling with here; this is something that an Enslaved fan should not miss out on.
While their trademark sound was pretty much intact on 'The Sleeping Gods', 'Thorn' takes things in a fairly different direction. Enslaved are still playing black metal, but this a very atmospheric breed of it that is closer to Drudkh or even tourmates Alcest than anything they have done before. The tracks are both similar, but distinguishable from each other. 'Disintegrator' is a mid-tempo nature worshiping piece that could have been plucked right from Drudkh's 'Autumn Aurora' record. The guitars are scarcely technical anymore, but instead aiming to create a sort of hypnotizing trance, while the vocals are generally loose and more for the sake of adding ambiance than leading the band. 'Striker' sounds a little closer to the Enslaved we already know, although the trends that started with 'Disintegrator' have not been left behind. The songs are each a side of the same coin; repetitive, dense, and above all else, atmospheric. I can certainly see some feeling disenchanted with this move that Enslaved have made, but I think they do it wonderfully. Could I see the band doing an entire album like this? It's still hard to tell, but I do feel that they have done about as much as they can with their current progressive metal sound, and perhaps 'Thorn' is a way for them to test the waters and try out something before making the full investment. As far as I'm concerned, I am now much more excited to hear what Enslaved will do in the future, knowing that there is this question as to whether they will evolve their sound, and as far as this sample goes, I think it could be a very good thing.
Thorn is a long-gestated collaboration between Norway's progressive black metal gods Enslaved and the respected Soulseller Records, a 7" output that had been planned some years ago but was only able to take shape recently. This is no doubt a result of the increasingly busy schedule and entirely justified popularity that the ponderous Vikings have accumulated through their recent crop of work. Thorn is not quite on the level of their albums Vertebrae and Axioma Ethica Odini, nor does it possess the same temporal displacement and dynamic variation found on their Scion A/V EP The Sleeping Gods (earlier in the year), but for my ears, this is a fairly astute example of how this entire shoegazing or 'post' application of the black metal genre might succeed without wearing out its thin, mopey welcome.
Essentially we are faced with a similar coupling of drifting, dreamy melodic tremolo guitar lines and abrupt, carnal snarls that the band have been flirting about if not outright engaging since about 200 with their Isa album. But unlike Vertebrae, you don't hear so much of that leaden Pink Floyd psychedelia; and unlike Axioma, there are no earth-shattering tectonic maneuvers being performed through the rhythm section. Instead, the guitars here drift on warm currents of bass while synthesizers scintillate off in the background, in shining patterns that illicit both a somber, sapping strength and poignant array of subtlety. "Striker" is perhaps the more 'striking' of the pair of tunes, with the synth intro and the descending aesthetics in the sheen of the prime verse guitar sequences, and the dissonant, noisy bridge region, but "Disintegrator" has a fraction more velocity and might applied to the guitars.
Regardless, both are extremely consistent in tone and style with one another, and written at nearly the same length (about 5 minutes 20 seconds each). Like most Enslaved recordings of the past decade or so, I felt myself increasingly drawn to the radiant gloom with each repeated experience of the material, even if there is less variation than you'd hear on a full-length, and the production ably contrasts the carnivorous snarls of Grutle Kjellson with the streaming emotional eloquence of the guitars. Perhaps these two would not be counted among the more impressive material the band have issued in the past decade, but surely Thorn is a delight for those fans who have reveled in their recent direction, and worth the acquisition if you were fortunate enough to grab one of the 1,000 copies. For myself, this remains one of the most fascinating evolutions in its genre, even if their extremity has consistently abated.
Okay Enslaved, I get it! You're trying to make my mind explode, eh? Well, you almost achieved it! What a band! What's happening here is like a gift from above. We got a full-length exactly a year ago and through this year we were offered a great single, then a killer EP and now WE GET A SECOND EP! Just like the good old days! Remember when bands existed exclusively because people loved to play music and create? Remember when we got tons of releases and did not have to wait 3-4 years for every release? Well, those are the days I'm talking about! This is yet another delicious surprise by the legends from Norway.
Released only on Vinyl and limited to 1000 copies, this is a treat not to be missed, and I'm pretty sure I won't be regretting my choice to buy this release. This will surely make for a nice little collector's item! Now, let's talk about the music, shall we?
The sound of this release is fucking oldschool. This could have easily come out of the early 90s' and can easily be placed among the early Enslaved demos and EPs. The production is raw and everything sounds like it's coming from far away. The atmosphere that is created is amazing and the feelings that are evoked are really great. It's been a really long time since a raw black metal release moved me so much. I would say that the dominating instrument on these song is the keyboard. The songs are pretty much keyboard-laden but that does not in any way mean that the guitars are not present. It is true that sometimes they may be overshadowed and covered by the synth melodies, but you can still hear them, they are lurking right behind the corner, ready to shred you into pieces! The vocals are perfect once again and the tortured shrieks and screams are fucking killer. The drum work is spot on although not always so varied. The bass gives a nice deep bottom, just what is needed for the sound to be completed!
A gloomy, eerie atmosphere is created and your mind is tricked into thinking it's in a lonely, desolate forest somewhere in the cold North. This release will probably not be enjoyed by most fans of the recent Enslaved material, since this has nothing to to with the polished production of the band's latest progressive/psychedelic rock experiments. Yes, everyone is familiar with the harsh vocals, but most of the fans that have only explored the recent releases by Enslaved, are probably not ready to absorb this raw, primitive and dark masterpiece. In conclusion, this release is meant to be enjoyed by the die-hard Enslaved fans like me, who enjoy the sound of the early Norwegian scene. The price for this is one of the most reasonable prices I have ever seen and the content of this Vinyl is surely worthy enough of the 7 euros that I have spent for it.
Enslaved are a very forward thinking band, that never seems to be content with keeping their sound as it currently is. They evolved from a pure black metal band on the tail end of the infamous Norwegian scene, to one of the leading forces in progressive black metal today. With that said, this EP is a far cry from their modern day output. Anyone expecting something building off of Axioma Ethica Odini should stay away. The A-side of this EP, Disintegrator, was written for the 10th Hole in the Sky Festival back in 2009, and played only once, at that festival.
This EP is a throwback to a time when Norwegian black metal was spoken of in hushed voices, and Enslaved were just a young band. The eerie atmosphere on this release reminds me a little bit of Hvis Lyset Tar Oss-era Burzum, except the recording quality is better. The production is very dim and grainy, which might put off some listeners at first. However, getting past that, it's clear that the production adds to, rather than detracts from, the music overall. The drums are sparse, echo-y, and sound as if they were played at the other end of a small tunnel. The vocals are very distant sounding, almost blending in with the rest of the sounds on this EP, almost sounding simply like faint bursts of static sometimes. The guitar is in a similar vein, and even seems to be absent at times. The dominant feature on both tracks is the keyboards. They are not complex, but rather, paint a very eerie, otherworldly atmosphere. It’s clear that the entire focus of this two-song release is about atmosphere and creating a very dark, gloomy, eerie picture for the listener. The notes on the back cover say that this was recorded in a forest. If true, then it certainly explains the production, when Enslaved are know for very slick, clear production.
The songs themselves are very droning, slow-paced, almost ambient black metal, somewhat akin to their early releases, but far rawer. The drum pattern changes only once in Disintegrator, about halfway through. As previously mentioned, the keyboards are the most prominent thing about this track. The lyrics are unintelligible and the vocals themselves blend in with the guitar at times. The B-side, Striker, features keyboards more heavily, and I’m not even sure if the guitar is playing at certain parts. Both tracks feel like walking through a cave, with only a few glow worms
This is a very solid release, from one of the few remaining names in the Norwegian scene who still play good black metal. It is almost a return to the demo days of the band, and feels absolutely drenched in gloom. The graininess of the production adds to the overall atmosphere of the haunting keyboards, sparse drums, guitars and vocals. Is it for everyone? No. Only fans of true Norwegian black metal should look into obtaining a copy of this EP (of which there are only 1000). Fans of the modern Enslaved will most likely turn away. But, I like it. It’s not what I expected, but it’s as good as I expected from these masters.