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Giants looming over Midgard. - 82%

ConorFynes, October 27th, 2016

Enslaved have pulled off a seemingly impossible double-feat with their career. Not only have they managed to keep up with consistent quality well over a decade after most bands would have met their expiry date, they also continuously reinvented themselves while they were at it. With every Enslaved record, you could count on them not to rest on their laurels. Their inevitable prog rock destination was pretty apparent even from the start, but like rewatching a favourite film, it was easy to love an experience of the journey, even if you already knew how it was going to end up.

I’ve never been quite as sold on Enslaved as some of my friends, often having found them a bit too formal and restrained. That said, they always managed to keep me engaged throughout their career. I think they hit their stride with Axioma Ethica Odini at the start of the decade. By that point, their progressive metal transformation was complete, and you can bet they made a good time of it. That album came with the sort of energy and fulfillment that comes when a band is making the music they were born to create. On RIITIIR and now with In Times, it finally sounds like Enslaved found their promised land and are learning to stick with it.

Even if it was one of my most anticipated albums of last year, In Times never seemed to catch my attention at the time. I enjoyed it the few times I heard it, but unlike the triad of albums that came before it, it never served to leap out and demand I listened more. It took a wide revisitation of the band’s material to finally push me to give this album the time it deserved. For one, I’m glad I did. As any fan might have predicted, In Times holds itself to a high standard of quality. At a glance, it’s very much the same upbeat prog sound they’ve been doing since Axioma Ethica Odini. At the same time, it’s less immediate than its predecessors, preferring to emphasize melody over the crunchy fireworks showcased on RIITIIR. Enslaved’s perennial innovation has finally shown its signs of slowing down, but staying in the same place isn’t keeping them from writing some fantastic material.

I don’t think it’s really fair to think of Enslaved as having stagnated. The big leaps are conceivably over from the looks of it, but rather than staying in the same place, it’s better to think the band as having slowed down to a more typical rate of evolution. While the developments get slighter with each album, there’s still enough to distinguish In Times from its 2012 predecessor. While I identified RIITIIR with its heaviness or Axioma with its upbeat energy, the material here is distinguished by its emphasis on melody and atmosphere. In a certain way, it’s almost as if they wanted to recreate echoes of Monumension for their latest era. All of that is perfectly fine with me. Enslaved trying to be dark or heavy on recent albums felt vaguely like an out-of-touch dad picking up skateboarding in an effort to appeal to his kids. Even if the attempt at heaviness was sincere and well-executed, it’s not the proper fit for them, and hasn’t been in a long while. By that rubric, In Times’ melodic shift is all for the best.

Whether it’s “Building with Fire” or my personal favourite “Nauthir Bleeding”, a lot of the album’s best moments are thanks to Herbrand Larsen’s clean vocal performance. In an album I thought I could predict note for note, that’s a part of it that has me surprised. Since Enslaved began using Herbrand’s voice to contrast Grutle’s snarl, his delivery was often thin and timid, limiting the emotional effect of their choruses. I was happy to hear his voice improve on RIITIIR, and the same has happened to an even greater extent here. While the rest of the band has remained the same, Herbrand belts out with all the confidence and charisma Enslaved deserve to be fronted with. Although the rest of the sound here is very familiar, that one relatively small improvement does a lot to help the sound as a whole.

In Times doesn’t have a highlight quite as high as “Death in the Eyes of Dawn”, but it does come across as a much more coherent and consistent album than RIITIIR. Only the track “In Times” itself feels overdrawn and somewhat boring. The rest of these tracks feel warm, urgent and fiery. Even if I’ve learned not to expect anything really new from them in the future, Enslaved are learning to impress me in new ways. The style they’ve settled on is resulting in some of the most solid material in their entire career. Better still, they’re not using the settled style as an excuse to be lazy. Rather, a lot of the tiny improvements that may have been swept aside by groundbreaking shifts are given much-desired attention. If I’ve ever been cynical about the modern era of Enslaved at times, all it seems to take is a new album to remind me they really do deserve practically all of the praise they receive.

Originally written for Heathen Harvest Periodical.

They made it seem effortless - 95%

bkuettel, December 30th, 2015

The opening seconds of “Thurisaz Dreaming” are possibly the fastest and most chaotic introduction to any album in Enslaved’s massive discography. While the opener of In Times progresses like most of their recent cuts, it eventually gives way to one of their most atmospheric and dreamlike outros to date. Even thirteen releases in, they’re not afraid to continue pushing the musical boundaries of progressive rock, psychedelia, and experimental music under an extreme metal backdrop. Recent albums have had varying amounts of black metal influence, but In Times subverts expectations by being their most varied and diverse release since 2001’s Monumension. Despite having arguably reached their peak with 2010’s Axioma Ethica Odini, Enslaved continue to prove that progressing is more important than attempting to repeat past successes.

At this point, it’s hard to build reasonable expectations for the band. Their modest birth in the heart of the early Norwegian black metal scene eventually gave way to widespread recognition. Each album soon had its own voice, with ample experimentation and a sense of large-scale concepts and themes of the mythological and otherworldly. In Times is yet another testament to their penchant for evolution and personal growth, exhibited significantly in “Building With Fire.” It builds mid-tempo melodic black metal verses with one of their most drearily effective melodic choruses of their career, sounding like it could come straight from an Alice In Chains album. Eventually they climax with an atmospheric guitar solo, later breaking with a bass solo, building again, then returning to the chorus. No single song runs under eight minutes, and each one really feels like a journey as they flow into each other, giving the impression of a concept album.

Ominous atmospherics in “One Thousand Years of Rain” quickly explode to life in a flurry of rapid fire alternating vocal styles of demonic shrieking and beautiful harmonizing, constantly battling with each other throughout the maze of guitar riffs and drum work. Each track largely continues in the same vein, with melodic choruses journeying throughout the stunning variety of beauty and brutality. The diverse instrumentation of riffs and arpeggiated chord changes takes notable influence from bands such as Gorguts and Opeth, exhibited most in the album’s second half. “Nauthir Bleeding” is the most adventurous and diverse cut of the album. It manages to be ferocious and simultaneously atmospheric thanks to a dazzling, dissonant middle section and perfect use of apocalyptic synths. “In Times” follows similarly, and contains one of the most poignant and meditative sections of the record before exploding into a screaming frenzy of blasts and tremolo picking.

The album’s highlight is saved for the closing track “Daylight.” After a few minutes of mid-tempo guitar riffing, it changes to an extended musical passage reminiscent of post-rock as layers of guitar chords paint a celestial picture over soaring vocals. A minimal but effective use of keyboards adds to the dredge of instrumentals as a truly epic guitar solo jams out, becoming the album’s catharsis and one of the most surprising moments of Enslaved’s career. It quiets down again, and the listener is forced to ask if this is the same band, before the heavy guitar riffing suddenly returns. The song continues as if nothing had happened, and just like that, it’s over. In Times exhibits Enslaved’s ever-evolving use of dynamics and soundscapes with a mature understanding of the alternating effects of ferocity and beauty. The sound of the apocalypse can change to peaceful skies within seconds. Their command over contrasting elements is so reliable and self-assured, that it wouldn’t be difficult to believe that they have twenty-five more years of musical greatness ahead of them.

Expansive, epic and utterly exquisite! - 90%

Chris Jennings, August 6th, 2015
Written based on this version: 2015, CD, Nuclear Blast (Limited edition, Digipak)

Greatness and Enslaved seem to go hand in hand these days, their recorded output is unarguably second to none, and their latest offering is guaranteed to continue the ascendancy of one of modern metal’s most fearless bands.

“Thurisaz Dreaming”, wastes no time in bludgeoning the senses with an immediate black metal attack before Enslaved’s now patented dynamics kick in and clean vocals interrupt the assault. Settling into a hypnotic groove and a melodic mid-tempo section, there are moments where you could be forgiven for thinking Dream Theater had introduced black metal elements to their operatic prog metal.

Enslaved may have upped the melodic ante on In Times but don’t panic, we are not in modern Opeth territory here. Enslaved have not forgotten their roots and instead architect their own war between light and shade; unsuppressed violence sharing time and space with moments of calm and exquisite beauty. This juxtaposition has been their bread and butter since 2004’s Isa album and is exemplified perfectly on “Building With Fire” and “One Thousand Years Of Rain”; roaring extreme metal breathing the same air as borderline radio-friendly hard rock.

Don’t let that description fool you, black metal’s double kick drums, tremolo riffing, rasping vocals and violent, caustic atmosphere are ever present but Enslaved are so ‘post’ black metal in 2015 they simply plunder the genre’s techniques for their own ends rather than faithfully adhering to its rules.

It’s on the title-track that Enslaved’s extreme metal tightrope walk between melody and malevolence comes to the fore. Staccato riffing and fluid leads provide the head banging cues while Grutle Kjellson’s harmonies during this epic track’s evocative interludes are particularly exquisite.

It’s all too easy to become bogged down with superlatives and clever metaphors when attempting to describe an album as adventurous and multifaceted as In Times. In truth, all you really need to know is that this is a truly outstanding album and should be mandatory listening in 2015.

Accusations of Enslaved softening their sound will abound but ignore the purists who balk at change and embrace a band who personify progressive. In Times is an album that demands immersion, so dive in and wallow in its nihilistic beauty.

Originally published on worshipmetal.com

Enslaved - In Times - 80%

ThrashManiacAYD, April 5th, 2015

By now fully deserving of the ‘legendary’ tag, a new Enslaved album is always cause of celebration, for any band boasting a discography 13 albums strong yet devoid of a duff one amongst the lot ought to be bestowed honorary knighthoods. Consider the variation the Norwegian five piece continue to intertwine in their deeply layered and determined sound from album to album and the realisation is frankly startling, as "In Times" continues to deliver on the band’s extreme, progressive talents through six tracks that sound new and refreshed, obsessively constructed and uniquely crafted and always, always redolent of this one band only.

It is hardly surprising to state “In Times" did not instantly appeal for yours truly, with opinions distinctly lukewarm in my early listens but as with "RIITIIR" and the more recent records of the band’s discography the gradual emergence of hidden aspects within complex song structures makes for countless enjoyable playbacks. For the shedding of the band’s black metal roots they have rightly received no opprobrium as in place is a sumptuous delivery of unusual chord progressions - take the staggered opening to "Daylight" for example - the upbeat springtime optimism of "Building with Fire" or tempered anger of "One Thousand Years of Rain”. And of course there are the clean vocals of keyboardist Herbrand Larsen, that continue to assume an even greater share of the spoils against Grutle Kjellson's throaty howl. All too often clean vocals are incorporated into extreme metal templates with cynicism and mass appeal intentions but you'll notice Enslaved’s artistic intentions have never been questioned in this respect.

On the topic of vocals "One Thousand Years of Rain" also brings to the party group chants, something for the band never exactly been renowned for. The effect is a slight upping of the song’s epic qualities and my wish for the band to utilise this tactic a little more when conducted in this ‘hidden’ manner. Less obtuse is the overall ‘extreme progressive’ tag underpinning the entire 53 minutes of this album. "Nauthir Bleeding" starts like a freeform Rush track before slowly taking on more recognisable Enslaved qualities - infact Larsen's vocals which open the track could easily have led the entirety of the track with no loss of favour in my estimations, but his presence remains profound through the sweeping keyboard chords he offers behind Kjellson's bellowing in those most progressive of tracks. The lead work from Ivar Bjørnson and Arve Isdal in the closing half of the track is perhaps the most perfect demonstration of that. The musical element always least noticeable in the band’s work is Kjellson’s bass lines which have not often stood out from the quality musicianship all-around but his chance to shine comes in the title track’s opening. Despite boasting such a committed chorus headlined by Larsen’s fantastic vocal lines the fairly aimless opening and mid-song jazz piano interlude to the song continues to leave this one my least enjoyable of the six tracks on offer.

Whatever pretences one might wish to place upon Enslaved’s desires to foray further into uncharted ground, as evidenced by the album’s opening in "Thurisaz Dreaming" they are a band fully conscious of their heritage and the ever-lasting need to retain a strong pedigree of extremity in sound. Do not expect them to exit the metal arena, ala Opeth, any time soon. Personal preference only dictates how highly "In Times" rates amongst Enslaved’s staggering discography; for me the overall lack of impact of small periods dotted around the album and a preference for the harsher end of their sound hold it less favourably than 2012’s "RIITIIR" but that is not to escape the simple fact these Norwegian heroes cannot release a bad album. Twenty-five years going strong and never living off past glories.

Originally written for Rockfreaks.net

In Times - 70%

GeorgeMFZB852, March 28th, 2015

As one of metal's most consistent bands, Norwegians Enslaved have gone from dark black metal on their debut to deeper, more complex releases in recent years. Throughout this time, the group have displayed the quality of their songwriting and musicianship, as well as their ability to stay fresh and innovative. Emerging now with 13th album In Times, the group continue this trend, albeit to no astounding degree. Ultimately a black metal release comprising of mostly mid-tempo metal, the release is also improved by a healthy dose of melodic undertones and progressive musical elements. As something black metal bands often refuse to utilise, it stands out as unique and effective, most notably on the distinctive mood and stunning guitar solo of 'Daylight'.

Enslaved also - as always - show a knack for effectively layering their work in complicated but exceptional ways, and being smart enough to not always stay routed in the somewhat limiting genre of black metal. It keeps the music interesting for longer, and in some places, means the tracks only improve the more you hear them. For example, the infectious bass line that accompanies the repetitive but brilliant opening riff of the title track completes an awesome metal intro, despite the fact that it is routed just outside black metal sonically.

The Norwegian veterans may show a welcome level of depth on much of In Times, but it's hard not to notice that it's slightly less than on previous releases. The group's interesting song structures are still present, but moments of 'Building With Fire' seem a bit disjointed, seemingly like a strange attempt at heavy rock, but coming across as a bit too straightforward for Enslaved.

Each Enslaved release has something that makes it stand out. Here, it's the less metal approach of the proggy undertones. Less doomy and mystifying than before, they shape the album's unique sound, making it just as atmospheric and engaging, but in a noticeably different way.

While it's unlikely to stand among their most remembered albums of this, their more progressive era, In Times is still an undeniably engaging album. Staying relevant by adapting but not completely shifting in style, Enslaved have again shown their remarkably consistent songwriting. The odd moment may fall flat of the mark, but whether it's the angry attack of 'Thurisaz Dreaming' or the more atmospheric tones of 'Daylight', more open minded metal fans have much here to appreciate.

originally posted on noisecannon.com

An Extraordinary Album - 100%

Roswell47, March 23rd, 2015
Written based on this version: 2015, CD, Nuclear Blast (Limited edition, Digipak)

Some don't care for Enslaved's recent style and won't be happy unless the band returns to its more straight-forward black metal days. On the other hand, I am a fan of all of Enslaved's work and have enjoyed watching the band's progression over the years. For me, the release of a new Enslaved album is a highly anticipated event since I invariably want to see what the band will do next. Luckily, Enslaved rarely disappoints.

Enslaved's latest, In Times, continues the band's evolution. The album belongs in the same family as Enslaved's two most recent full-lengths, RIITTIIR and Axioma Ethica Odini. While it's probably most similar to Axioma, In Times has a character all of its own. The songs on In Times seem somewhat subtle and not always in your face. The opening track, "Thurisaz Dreaming," is a solid but understated song that is not immediately impressive. It's actually quite a grower and gradually shows its strengths over time. However, the next track, "Building With Fire," is instantly likeable and combines all that is good about modern Enslaved. This sort of balance between songs that grow on the listener and tracks that are immediately stuck in one's head makes In Times an exceptionally strong album as a whole. There's more to discover with each successive listen, but there's also plenty to enjoy right away.

While there's an abundance of driving force provided by the band's black metal style and Grutle Kjellson's blackened screams, both clean guitars and clean vocals are heavily utilized on In Times. As in the past, Herbrand Larsen's singing gives many of the choruses an epic feel. Musically, what could be best described as the band's "prog" influences come to the fore on much of the album. This is especially evident in "One Thousand Years of Rain" and "Nauthir Bleeding." The progressive vibe usually is provided by unique rhythms and chord voicings. Acoustic and clean electric guitars contribute to a dreamy feeling on several of these songs, especially when combined with the clean singing. "Daylight" is a prime example of the dreamy vibe that Enslaved often conjures on the album, at times bringing Devin Townsend's more mellow moments to mind. In some instances, the clean guitars nearly cross the line into shoegaze / 90's emo territory. But fear not, the songs remain wholly Enslaved. While the tracks on In Times can be a little long and repetitive, they never become boring in the least. The expertly-layered instruments and vocals make each eight to ten minute track fly by. No single instrument dominates; each serves the purpose of the song, and thereby the album as a whole.

In Times is a more than worthy addition to the Enslaved catalog. Just when it feels like Enslaved might run out of places to explore or may not be able to maintain its level of quality, the band proves that there was no reason for doubt. In Times is an extraordinary album that has the potential to continue to grow on the listener for years to come. This is one of the best albums in a discography already brimming with stunning work.

Originally written for http://www.metalpsalter.com

Another Masterpiece! - 95%

mjollnir, March 21st, 2015

The release of an Enslaved album is pretty much an event for me, as these guys are quite possibly in my top 5 favorite bands of all time. In my eyes they have done no wrong in their impressive 24 year career. From the very start you could tell that these Norwegian's were something truly special. And to think that these guys were merely teenagers when they recorded their demo and not much older when they released their legendary debut, Vikingligr veldi. Over the years their sound has matured and the band has managed to outdo themselves with each release while expanding their fanbase.

So here in 2015 we have another event, the release of their thirteenth full length album, In Times. As always, this band has reinvented themselves to release an album that is more magical than the last but still subtly hanging on to some of the older elements that have been in this band since the beginning. Their uncanny ability to meld blasting aggression and haunting melodies has been something this band has always been able to do, and this album is no different. From the immediate blasting of "Thurisaz Dreaming" you hear the familiar sounds if blasts, tremolos, and Grutle's signature rasp...that seems to sound much better here than on the previous couple of releases. But then the haunting melodies come in and create such an atmosphere. I've heard some say that they are not all that keen on Herbrand Larsen's clean vocals but I find them to be the perfect contrast to Grutle's rasp. He reminds me of Mikael Akerfeldt a lot and on here it's not much different. He seems to actually expand his range a bit here showing us what he truly is made of. But if you think you have this album figured out based on this song, think again.

"Building With Fire" is unlike any Enslaved song I've ever heard. If the tempo and melody could be compared to anything, maybe Isa would come close. It's a mid tempo song and has an almost straight ahead rock riff going on to start it off. Clean vocals introduce the melodies. Then it goes into some interesting riffing with the keys providing another layer to this song along with Grutle's rasp. This song seems to actually build from it's rather simple opening to become a favorite song by this band. Atmospheric lead guitars provide another layer to enjoy. This is the band doing what they do best, not allowing themselves being put in any genre box but, instead, choosing to just be Enslaved. Each song is an epic composition that has it's own personality but at the same time is also absolutely necessary for the flow of this album. "One Thousand Years of Rain" shows this band's progressive side with the multiple time changes and some strange tempos. Mostly a mid to fast paced number with the vocals alternating with Grutle's rasp leading the way and Herbrand's cleans adding melodies there are some strange riffs and time signatures thrown in. Once you think you know what direction they are taking a song, they take into another.

The title track needs some special mention because, I think, this is quite possibly the most ambitious song the band has created since "793 (Slaget om Lindisfarne)" from their 1997 masterpiece, Eld. As a matter of fact, you can hear Grutle's chants in there as the song builds almost reminding me of said song. Then some interesting riffing takes over giving this epic life. It's all the elements combined that make this song truly special. A strange melodic part with vocal harmonies comes in in the middle of the song taking you further on the journey as it then slows with piano, acoustic guitars and atmospheric leads that give it an almost psychedelic feel. Then you have this blast that builds to take the song to it's bombastic completion. "Daylight" rounds out the album and is song with so many layers that it's hard to give an accurate description. The contrast of aggression and melody is profound on this song as spaced between blasting and harsh vocals are some soft acoustic moments that lead into beautiful melodies and atmospheric leads. This is the quite the fitting way to round out this musical journey.

Enslaved is a band that has never disappointed me and this album is another masterpiece that they should be proud of. Their progression never seems to stop and with each release they seem to raise the bar even higher than the last.


The Elitist Metalhead

Great, possibly my album of the year - 95%

Superreallycool, March 16th, 2015
Written based on this version: 2015, CD, Nuclear Blast (Limited edition, Digipak)

Enslaved have been on a streak of awesome albums. They constantly make albums, yet haven't disappointed once. While they've had their pretty obvious high and lows, they have yet to make an album that wasn't at least good. In Times certainly isn't going to be the album to break that streak.

They don't really pull any surprises here, but it never feels dull. Starting with "Thurisaz Dreaming" it goes right into blast beats and growls. It kind of feels like seeing your best friend: it may not have been that long since you last saw him/her, but it still feels great to see them again. This feeling is basically the whole album, they manage to do what they've been doing without sounding like a rehash of old ideas. The only real change is the HUGE improvement to the clean vocals. They've gone to borderline distraction to being often the best part of a song.

While the good songwriting is obviously what makes this album good, it's the variety that really makes this a stand out album. It goes from full on black metal to progressive epics. While this often can come across as the band not knowing what they want to do (such as the Clash's Sandinista! for example) but here it feels so amazingly natural. It isn't perfect %100 of the time, but even when it isn't perfect it's still done well at the very least. While I do like the black metal side of the music plenty, it's when the band adds the more progressive touches to their compositions that I really interesting. Reusing the "Thurisaz Dreaming" example, it starts out as a more or less straight forward black metal song, but soon the distorted and rough sound is exchanged for clean and smooth guitar and the vocals become almost choir like. This clean and semi-progressive sound is mixed with black metal and it very simply just works.

The production on this album is simply awesome. Black metal often benefits from rough production, but the clean one here compliments the music perfectly. Every instrument sounds lively and full of energy. Every note has room to breathe and feel natural. There isn't really all that much to say as there isn't anything really groundbreaking about the production really, it's just that it fits the music so well. I couldn't imagine enjoying the soft parts on this album if the production had been more along the lines of traditional black metal.

If you like Enslaved's past work, this will be no disappointment. It's also a perfectly acceptable entry to the band as well. It may not be Enslaved's best work, but it does get close. I wholeheartedly recommend this album and would not be surprised if this ended up being my album of the year.

Side note, I really want to give credit to whoever designed the cover art (sorry, I couldn't find his/her name). It is great in a very subtle way. Nothing about it comes out and slaps you in the face, it is just very nice looking in the simplest of ways.

The frost that never thaws - 95%

autothrall, March 13th, 2015
Written based on this version: 2015, CD, Nuclear Blast (Limited edition, Digipak)

As opposed to several of its 21st century forebears, In Times is not the sort of record which steps out to take a lot of risks, nor does it add a broad palette of new sound and style to the Enslaved canon. Instead this album feels like a smoothing over of the cobblestones with which they've paved their recent past; calm and stormy waters lapping over the creative shores, remaining at low tide lest they overtake the beachfront property. The long ships, once wedged as far and wide up the coast now own berths on the local docks, the harbor master gets a smile and a handshake instead of an axe in his skull, the women and innkeepers of the local villages don't feel quite so threatened, and there are few if any fiery funerals flowing back out to sea, most now proxied by lanterns and candles, bobbing on the esoteric prog vibes centric to the Norwegian's sound. Berserkers reformed, Ivar, Grutle, Arve, Cato and Herbrand can now just get down to what they do best: writing some tremendous fucking music.

If that description raises some red flags that the band has 'mellowed out', in any way, do forgive me, because that's not exactly what has taken place. More of a refinement. Cutting and piercing tremolo picked black metal passages still abound, particularly in the opening bursts of "Thurisaz Dreaming", but there is an unbroken chain of melody, overt and implied, coursing through the record's most feral ideas, and not an unwelcome one, fusing together motifs from both their earliest recordings like Frost and their more recent masterworks Below the Lights and Vertebrae, into a reflective, consistent air of melancholy that creates one of their most consistent experiences to date. The jazzier progressions of chords they began tooling with in that era are now seamlessly integrated into the biting winds, now distributed fairly evenly across both the faster and slower moments, nothing more than the natural lexicon from which they twist out each phrase and passage. Structurally, where numerous tempos and aesthetics are still present in the writing, In Times doesn't possess quite that titanic level of tectonic variation that records like Axioma Ethica Odini and RIITIIR thrived off. Individual pieces on those discs still serve as solitary epics in my listening habits, which is no mean feat in of itself, but from bow to stern, I felt that this was more fully coherent.

Grutle Kjellson's harsh intonations and Herbrand Larsen's cleans continue to present a dichotomy within the material that, as the band becomes even better versed and fluid in production standards, seems to become an even sorer thumb for some listeners. I think the reason is that the latter's singing voice has grown so much over the last decade that the rasps, by comparison, seem a little too crude, monotonous and jarring in comparison. Not a point of contention for me, since I'm just so accustomed to how this works, but when the guy sings in 2015, its the perfect marriage of humility and contemplation, melody carried through honesty, a pair of vocalists well aware of their limitations and working their best within the bounds. The mid-ranged, soothing and airy harmonies placed throughout this record, as in the bridge of "Thurisaz Dreaming" or the depths of "One Thousand Years of Rain" are so effective that counterbalancing them with the harsher tones does often come off a bit like trolling a good thing, but won't come as any surprise to those who have been following them for the last 20 years. Enslaved is just not a band I expect to fully depart from what made it in the first place, no matter how deep they dig into unfamiliar musical terrain.

Of course, as far as they've come, in both the vocals and the smooth, interesting bass lines that always lend appropriate mood and gravity to the more complex guitars, it is those rhythm guitars themselves which prove the most captivating component. Lush floes of chords collide with some nastier, progressive blackened thrash licks, but at the same time interspersed with these immediate, evil sounding melodies that Ivar and Arve will unexpectedly break out, as in the later half of the "Nauthir Bleeding" bridge, which instantly refresh the attention span when one catches him or herself off dreaming to the chord patterns they generally affix to Cato's blasting and double bass patterns. There is just not a song here which lacks some hypnotic ascendancy beyond its surface value, whether that's the sparser, swaying punctuation of bass line to the punctuated guitars in the vocal harmonies of "In Times" itself, or the Darkthrone-like black tremolo picked groove in "Building With Fire", at which point you can just mentally picture Nocturno Culto's voice barking out, before the coitus interruptus of shining keys and cleaner guitars. The lyrics are triumphant, poetic and uplifting without swimming too far into the shallower waters.

There must be some sort of statute Enslaved has broken, having produced so much quality music by this time. But for the sake of my ears, I hope they continue to dodge the law of averages and career nadirs, and to just be themselves. They've a sound I can instantly distinguish from the hordes of other neo-black metal veterans still breathing, even though it overlaps with a lot of their Nordic neighbors who have simultaneously continued to mutate and renew from their own points of origin. The ideas and musical ability really speaks for itself, this is not a band thriving off some controversial legacy or outspoken contemporary press-whoring, but a group of consummate musicians who did everything THE RIGHT WAY. In Times might not prove to be their crowning achievement, it might not bring as much nuance to the table as a few of their other recordings, but it certainly holds office at court, and even a half dozen listens in, the more I experience this record, the more I am absorbed. The older I get, the rarer that has become, so color me proud to be aging alongside this amazing, intrinsic band.

-autothrall
http://www.fromthedustreturned.com

Progressive Aggressiveness - 92%

PassiveMetalhead, March 9th, 2015
Written based on this version: 2015, CD, Nuclear Blast (Limited edition, Digipak)

From the depths of satanic malice in the Norwegian black metal scene, Enslaved emerged and grew to be a band that expanded its sound beyond primary recognition while still inhibiting black metal ancestry as a foundation. The band’s lengthy discography displays progressiveness in a way that their career path mimics their progressive song structure. Unbound by genre pigeon-holing, Enslaved have become a reckoned force by exploiting the freedom and pride of experimentation in their music.

The immediate fury of 'Thurisaz Dreaming' introduces their recognizable black metal roots. It’s a relentless track full of levitating hooks, guttural growls and guitar slides that can only be rivaled by bands such as Gojira. However Enslaved are renowned for their changes in musical structure and direction. The same song glides through textured moments of psychic riffing and ritualistic chants underlying Ivar Bjørnosn’s polished clean vocals. This controlled chaos is evident in the adventurous 'Nauthir Bleeding'; complex rhythmic changes burst into drama and atmospheric theatrics at the drop of a helmet to build on the overall agitation of the song that then lead into a kaleidoscopic passages of prog and then back to a quickened pace once more.

Even though In Times is in keeping with Enslaved’s unique genre bending sound, it is still a balanced record. Some songs may follow a natural speed or structure whilst others spin out of control into mid-section prog instrumentals or black metal frenzied riffs. The heavy and lighter elements slip together seamlessly in 'Building With Fire'. It is only until three quarters of the song that they break the overall tempo of the song to give the bass and keyboards some spotlight to build up the climatic chorus and unceremonious ending. 'One Thousand Years Of Rain' is also one of the most consistent songs on the record. Grutle Kjellson’s demonic shrieks connect to Ivar’s beautiful harmonies in an uncommon yet tremendously successful way that is resonant throughout the album. After the twinkling strumming of acoustics gives way to full throttle grooves the song emerges itself as the most fist pumping, headbanging songs to have been created since 2009’s Axioma Ethica Odini.

The title track continues to plough the familiarly progressive channel as its predecessor, its lengthy instrumentation intro drifting slowly through a cosmic void of coloured combination of light and shade. The subtle pieces are eventually shattered by a heavy centralized Opeth-like riff against the ghostly wails and rippling solos of Kjellson, Bjørnosn and Isdal who swap without warning from quiet meditation to burning rage. Similarly on closer and stand out track 'Daylight', some moments of mid tempo riffing implode into a single melody that blossoms into a web of pure bliss and tranquillity. An incredible tear-jerking solo encapsulates this harmonious section until the unexpected heaviness returns until its abrupt ending. Within this crescendo alone Enslaved unveil a real sense of completion and pride to In Times. This is progressive wrath at its finest.

A Calmer Approach - 87%

flightoficarus86, March 6th, 2015

It is truly amazing how much Herbrand‘s clean vocals have evolved and improved with each release. As much as I love their dark, depressive qualities on Isa, that was the voice of a boy. With RIITIIR and now In Times, these are the mature tenors of a man. Whether it is the result of some professional coaching or trial and error, the outcome is no less captivating. Comparisons to Åkerfeldt are warranted, but fail to capture the entire picture.

Hopefully you share my man-crush on Enslaved’s keyboardist, because this is probably the most clean singing you will hear on an Enslaved album to date. It’s to the point where I wonder if they might pull an Opeth (speaking of Åkerfeldt) in the near future. But this is not to say that the growls are any less harrowing. The opening of “Thurisaz Dreaming” and darker moments of “One Thousand Years of Rain” certainly give Grutle his due with performances not dissimilar from “Roots of the Mountain.”

Moving along to the other instruments, this may very well be the most diverse album stylistically well. While there is still plenty of the expected Enslaved brand proggy chord work and time changes, there are other times when song structures feel simplified. This is particularly apparent on “Building with Fire,” a song that is very near traditional rock. There are even a handful of rock solos on this album, my favorite of which occurs during the final heavenly moments. Also new to the fold are some of the slower, picked melodies that drop the distortion in favor of chorus and delay effects. I never thought I would find myself thinking about Deftones while listening to Enslaved, but the dreamy, space-rock vibes and guitar tone are straight out of songs like “Hole in the Earth,” “Sextape,” “Rosemary,” and “Entombed.”

With only 6 songs, I am trying hard to avoid a track-by-track review, but I must return to “One Thousand Years of Rain” for a moment. Much like “Roots of the Mountain” on RIITIIR, this is the crown jewel of In Times. It’s simply breathtaking. The catchy-as-hell core riff is simultaneously blistering and sorrowful. It makes me want to bang my head and shed blissful tears all at once. We also see the return of a folky, chanted interlude not unlike on Below the Lights’ “Havenless.”

All in all, this may very well be Enslaved’s chilliest album to date, but one that is still plenty enjoyable and well-written. My initial impression was to say that it had fewer memorable moments than RIITIIR but shows increased consistency. This may be true to a point, but with each subsequent listen, I find myself more and more attuned to the various hooks and melodies. Prior to the album’s release, I heard some nervous talk about the song lengths. Those concerned can rest easy. Nothing is more annoying to me than a 10 minute track that sounds like one or two riffs on loop. Enslaved provide more than enough different content and smooth transitions in each song to keep them moving. In fact, this album seemed to fly by in no time at all. At the time of this writing, it was flying by in full on Youtube. Check it out.

Enjoyability=8
Musicianship=9
Innovation=9