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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.