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Black Metal ... only RUiNed! - 60%

Str8Hate, April 4th, 2006

It's always hard to write objective reviews of bands that change directions so often because there's this tendency to compare their latest work with earlier albums (and especially if their latest work is not as ground-breaking). Such is the case with Enslaved and their latest work. In fact, Enslaved as a band surprises me. Being an Norwegian Black Metal band hailing from Bergen, you'd expect to see them in the usual corpse-paint and steel jewelry. All other bands from Bergen are like that. But for some reason they're not. Maybe they just got tired of it, after all they've been around since 1991 and already have 9 albums under their steel belts. So they're different in that regard. But it matters not how they look rather how they SOUND.

The first thing to note about RUUN is that the first track is not a short musical piece which you'd find in almost all their other albums. The first track kicks right ahead into a riff-happy direction. And you'd start to wonder if this really is Enslaved playing their instruments, but it's only when I heard Grutle's DISTINCT voice did I finally sail with the song and it all seemed too familiar. I have to say that Grutle's vocals are magnificent and they sound very much like Satyr's vocal-work on "Nemisis Divina". I believe he's endowed with one of the best ( if not THE best ) vocals that really fit for Black Metal music. So it's a safe bet to say that the first track "Entroper" really sets the pace for the remaining songs on the album partially because they all sound very much like it. The highlights of the album are (aside from the first track) , track #4 the title track "Ruun", track #6 titled "Essence" (which the band had incidently produced a DVD video for).

Most of the songs are riff-happy and sort of sail across your attending ear without any thing clinging so that when you wake up the next morning you'd find yourself humming it while taking a shower. I had to listen to the album twice in a row just to make sure I hadn't missed out on any good riffs or something. Many pre-views of this album claimed it to be a "ground-breaking" album and the "best" that Enslaved had composed yet. But I just couldn't "hear" what the hype was all about. I just came to the conclusion that this album was really overrated even before it hit the consumer market. I'm not advertising my disappointment about the album, I'm just saying that this is NOT the best that Enslaved has to offer. I'm personally a fan of their earlier work and if you're reading this review because you want to get into Enslaved (but can't decide on which album to try first) I recommend you go buy their earlier stuff. Unless ofcourse you're after softer, more progressive Black Metal, because as far as progressive BM goes, I think Enslaved have really created a solid album of this particular genre, but you won't find any "kvlt" Black Metal here if that's your thing. But still if you want to get into progressive BM I would recommend trying Borknagar first because they're probably superior in their songwriting and do a better job on any of their albums compared to Enslaved's latest release.

Originality 5
Musicianship 20
Songwriting 5
Production 20
Lyrics 10