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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