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Cool Stuff - 92%

OzzyApu, May 13th, 2009

So this was the first Enslaved album I heard – not a bad representation of their new sound; then again it isn’t the most current. A lot of fans prefer the older works, but so far this is the latest I’ve heard; I actually like it more than say the first two albums. The formula remains unchanged, but the execution is far beyond cute. Instead of pure atmosphere and chaotic drives to flush out the tracks, we’re given more electronic influence and an edgier attitude – the outcome is more bizarre than I could have imagined.

Of all Enslaved’s progressive years, this album sounds the most strange to me – the foggy production, frantically thin riffs, eerie keys, and the gloomy / false hope tone are giveaways. It’s like the album was a “secret project” that found itself smashed between the more “complete“ albums of Below The Lights and Ruun. It’s hard to follow such an album lyrically – something I more than never pay attention to for peace of mind. However, the catch is to get lost in the songs; what I mean is this: this album is like an insane person’s thoughts set into a plot format, with us (the listener) taken on this odd journey. I know Enslaved are capable of writing compelling lyrics, but the complex music speaks louder than what’s on paper.

While all the instruments are respectably heard on all tracks (when they play a role), their duties are convoluted in no small part: guitars are extremely hypnotic on distorted and clean parts, bass is like a demon with tourettes, and the vocals are frenzied when screaming / growling and tranquil / vibrant when clean. Drums seem to be organic and unaffected by such a spell, but the make-up for lies with the awe-inspiring keys. They’re like a nymph – totally in control over your mind, body , and behavior. In dominant songs like “Ascension,” they’re trance and vibrancy is captivating over the lunacy with the rest of the band. They’re used more in a psychologically serene way than in an overly gay way. Even their subtle impact on the track after with the dominant guitar spasms show them to be in control.

Riff wise, “Bounded By Allegiance” also tops the others – that’s the only rational part. Repetition usually works for doom, but here it lures us deeper into the depths of our imaginations. In my opinion, the pinnacle of both important players (guitars and keys) occurs on “Return To Yggdrasil;” drums have a catchy, tribal style here. The two main instruments compose themselves suitably with the production by issuing more of a spellbinding soundscape than anything else. It invigorates a person with a greater sense of warmth and longing – coated by Grutle’s soothing an deep clean vocals / sporadic cries, and we’re on the edge of sanity. “Neogenesis” is a longer progression of this take, but I find it to be less concentrated than “Return To Yggdrasil.”

PS – Towards the end of “Lunar Force” Lemmy from Motörhead makes a cameo! Then I read that it was actually Abbath and went back to my Mountain Dew.