The other 8 reviews have covered this record very well. I just want to add: This record contains supreme musicianship and brilliant songwriting. Enslaved, quite possibly are the best band in this genre of metal. I strongly urge everyone reading this to “add to cart” So far in 2006,IMO, RUNN is the second best release falling a little short. The band to top this is Drudkh with their release “Blood in our Wells” which unfortunately Amazon does not have. Excellent Ukrainian Black Metal, IMO, the top band in the depressive Black Metal realm. Remember, Drudkh and Enslaved for Black Metal you can’t do much better. Peace.
To close off the decade in style, DARKEST HOUR has crafted a recordthat will make heads spin and inspire metal fans world-wide. Faster, heavier, and deeper than anythingthey have ever recorded, The Eternal Return is the defining record of this proud American metalinstitution. The Eternal Return is epic and furious metal written by metal-heads for metal-heads. Quitesimply, this is a record created by musicians who have dedicated half their lives to aggressive andunrelenting music. The Eternal Return is the reinvention of the finest elements of DARKESTHOUR’S celebrated history, making it the absolute modern thrash metal masterpiece.
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Should you hear the words “best metal band out there,” Enslaved probably isn’t the first band that comes to mind. But pause and reflect. Enslaved has a reputation for always pushing for something new and interesting. The amount of output alone is impressive–since their famous split EP with Emperor (on which they blew Emperor away, I might add), they’ve done ten full-lengths in total, releasing pathbreaking albums almost yearly since 1999. The quality, even more remarkable–from the epic, deft, assaultive Viking metal of the early years to the ever more progressive, strange, and psychedelic albums of recent times, there is probably no metal band whose discography matches that of Enslaved. Just when you think they finally _have_ to release a `bleh’ album, they blow you away again.
Where _Ruun_ ultimately stands in relation to the rest of the catalogue is uncertain, but it any case it is an exhilarating, progressive, and powerful. There are only peripheral features that tie the band to its former days or black metal in general. It otherwise an extension of _Isa_ the way _Isa_ was an extension of _Below the Lights_ and so on — each album is a step that feels natural and reaches tremendous heights (_Maudraum_ and _Blodhemn_ was the most profound change of style, probably). On _Isa_, it seemed the band have reached its immanent end and perfected itself. _Ruun_ just keeps running with the concept. The paradox of the reviewer is that one can describe _Ruun_ mostly with reference to _Isa_, and yet it is difficult to articulate the abstract changes that have taken place, so one might lose sight of the progression at play. Same sorta qualities, really: wall-of-sound metal, tight choppy riffs, complex songwriting, phantasmagoric arrangements, prog-like rhythmic labyrinths, and album flow orientation. The album starts with the driving “Entroper” with driving metal chording and subtle melodic grace. About two minutes into “Fusion of Sense and Earth”, Enslaved channels what sounds like a lost passage from Opeth’s “The Amen Corner” – vox too! “Tides of Chaos” culminates in a _Larks_-era King Crimson-esque slog, highly metallized. As much as I hear sounds evoking other bands, this is purely Enslaved’s album – I haven’t heard any metal band write a heavy, shimmering song like “Essence” or pull off such a bizarre, vertigo-inducing guitar solo in the climax of “Heir to the Cosmic Seed”. That last song is also amazing with its slow galloping riffs, chanting, and drifting guitar notes. Brilliant moments of metal riffage, instrumental interplay, and atmospheric weirdness abound. Yes.
…or maybe a bit of both…have you ever watched a cat chase a flashlight on a wall…entertaining indeed…however, this album makes me feel like the cat. Can’t really put my finger on what it is about this album…suffice it to say…it has slayer (early), opeth, stoner rock, classic progressive and whatever else you will bear witness round about listen 20, but a fine effort indeed. Everything just seems to find its place in the mix on this album and that is a testament to the band and the production quality. Some may spew venom about the sound quality being too proggy, but if that were the case the drums would be much higher in the mix! To me the drums are great, but the guitar and keyboard interaction make this record what it is. 8 tracks with no repeatition what-so-ever…and for a band of this propensity…you would believe them to be less prolific…but you would be wrong…
I have listened to this as much as 10,000 days and think this album is much better…and that album has its moments.
I’m only familiar with a few of the Norwegian black metal bands, and decided to try out Enslaved after reading some good reviews. I’m quite surprised and intrigued by the creativity in this band’s sound, and they’ve gotta be one of the most progressive and interesting bands in their dark circle. I bet if the most adventurous and big-thinking Vikings had access to modern instruments, as well as a yen for both classic extreme metal and prog rock, they’d make music like this. As opposed to the relentless violence of their compatriots, Enslaved enslave the listener with an ominous creeping dread and slow-burning menace. The most powerful tracks on this album, such as “Entroper” and “Tides of Chaos,” build that power with shifting dynamics and unexpected stylistic changes, while the haunting acoustic breaks in “Path to Vanir” and “RUUN” find the perfect balance between beauty and power. Now that’s how to build true heaviness, rather than just bashing away at full blast all the time. Prominent keyboards and some snippets of exotic instrumentation, as well as the interesting juxtaposition between the Alice Cooper-like sneer of Grutle Kjellson and the forlorn wizened singing of Herbrand Larsen, are all signs of a band that is fully committed to breaking out of its category, and moving that category into new musical realms. This extreme metal is extremely fascinating. [~doomsdayer520~]
ENSLAVED – RUUN
For those unaware, Norway’s Enslaved are on their 10th album in 16 years, they have shifted a few members here and there, and have constantly progressed and pushed the limits of Black/Viking Metal.
Though I am not thoroughly familiar with their older works I have been more than impressed with their last two albums Below the Lights (2003) and Isa (2004) and now their latest RUUN (2006) has toppled all expectations I had for them.
Enslaved, are more than loyal to progression, each one of their albums holds true their Black/Viking Metal roots, yet they further explore the prog-territory in vein of 70’s era King Crimson. Anyway on to the Album:
RUUN, begins with the powerful Entroper, a very subtle build drives this 6 minute opener along… near the end unleashing some stunning vocal work (actual singing) from the new keyboardist, Herbrand Larsen. They experimented with various guest vocalists on Isa but, Larsen’s voice seems more than suited and is a perfect contrast with Grutle Kjellson venomous rasp. Also Gruntle’s, Rickenbacker(?)Bass work is noteworthy as it is nicely turned up in the mix. The second track, Path to Vanir is another stunning song with a midsection that would make the mighty King Crimson proud followed by pure black-metal fury. Fusion of Sense and Earth, goes back to their roots, with some incredible guitar playing by Ivar Bjornson and Arve Isda. Isda’s soloing is especially impressive. The title track RUUN is a nice combination of black metal and prog-rock. Holding a delicate balance of beauty and brutality, for the entire song. Tides of Chaos, begins with probably my favorite intro on the album, the guitar play is simply fantastic, especially when complimented by the groove heavy drumming of Cato Bekkevold. The spoken vocals are well executed and provide a nice change of pace. Track six, Essence, is masterful track which is simply put beautiful… There is some very nice spoken work in this song and again the play between clean and rasping vocals is perfectly balanced. Best of all, the clean vocals come off as very sincere and not as some sheik attempt to gain mainstream attention. Api-Vat is prog-filled journey into experimental territory, yet like this entire album holds true to its roots. The closer Heir to the Cosmic Seed, is appropriately placed as the final track and is probably the most, prog filled and off-kilter track on the CD.
All in All RUUN will be in my top honours for best of 2006 and though it has tough competition this year, (Akercocke, Burst and Tool to name a few.) an album like this can only continue to grow…
Best of all I don’t think Enslaved has yet reached their Magnum Opus and I am a definite fan of their Blackened, Progressive-Viking Metal and look forward to what the future holds.
Favorite Songs: Tides of Chaos, Essence, Fusion of Sense and Earth, and Api-Vat.
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