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Floating in The Sea of Time - 92%

Vortic, January 5th, 2018

Black metal sometimes seems to be going nowhere creatively. Pure black metal, that is, the old Mayhem and Burzum, bands that are great, but have drained the well of the genre. This is where other sub-genres come to help, enriching the output of bands. In Times is my introduction to Enslaved, I don't know how that fact is going to change anything of what I am going to state, but I felt I needed to say it. Anyways, the album is in no way traditional black metal, so a person who enjoys "tr00 kvlt" shit is not going to think much of this record. In fact, it is closer to Opeth than it is to Mayhem, Emperor etc. So, fans of these bands - beware! You are in for something drastically different so don't be surprised if you're dissappointed in the end.

Starting off with guitars, I am first going to talk about their tone. It is not overdriven to its maximum, which is where the deviations from BM (or extreme metal in general) start. They are mixed very well and maintain a ballance between the two sub-genres. The riffs are unorthodox, closer to progressive rock than to black metal, but you do have your occasional tremolo and other BM characteristics, the name of which I know not since I am not a musician. They create a dreamy atmosphere, as if taken to another plane of existence, which seems to be the point of the album. The transitions from riff to riff are great, maintaining a steady flow of the music. Acoustic guitars are virtually not present (except for a single chord in the beginning of In Times) and I think this might be intentional, so it is in no way a flaw. The drums are well mixed as well. They are played in time and the double bass is actually quite good. Overall, the drummer serves the music expertly and there is no complaint to make here. The bass is something that stands out, to me that is. It is not rasp, very different from black metal and, again, closer to prog-rock. The way it is incorporated into the mix is amazing. It is mellow, serves the music as well, without doing anything crazy or just copying the guitars an octave lower 100% of the time. The harsh vocals are one of the few characteristics typical to BM. General harsh vocals, yet at moments they seem worn out, as if the singer is losing his voice because of age, which might not be the truth, but this is what they resemble. But they go well with the music, so they are not problematic. The soft vocals, on the other hand, are really good. They fit the dreamy mood of the record, another great prog-rock characteristic incorporated into the music. The keyboards manage to fill the gaps where such are present, a piece in the atmosphere of the album.

The album is the exact opposite of "kvlt". The production reaches expert levels, everything sounds clear, is mixed well and goes along well with the rest. None of the instruments overwhelms the flow of the music and none of them can be neglected. The composition is in no way intense. You don't have this bunch of evil sounding children trying to be edgy, you have a band of expert musicians who are devoted to the art and deliver a great performance. The tracks, when compared to one-another, have a lot in common but they are in no way repetitive, which is the entire concept of a record. Many of the melodies are relaxing, most of what puts this album closer to rock than to metal on the spectrum. But you do have your fair amount of tension brought by the black metal aspects of the record. I'd say it's a good blend of 65% prog-rock and 35% BM. The lyrics are poetic and further add to the otherworldly feel of the music. These are the core characteristics that make this album so good.

So, here is my conclusion. A metal purist will despise this album. It is very atypical in that sense, it is not as harsh and more experimental. The band takes obvious influence from 70's progressive rock acts and mixes that with some (I repeat, some) core characteristics of extreme metal. So, if you're not into the more experimental side of black metal, dismiss this album, and most of the band as well. But if you cherish acts that are not afraid to incorporate some of their favourites into their compositions, if you are willing to give some time and experience the masterpiece In Times is, then this is for you and I hope you enjoy the record more than I did.