I have been an Enslaved listener for well over 10 years now, and I have been able to witness much of the musical evolution that has transpired over the last several albums. what I have witnessed is a band not content to rest on their laurels, but a band that has a desire to constantly evolve and create music that is not only challenging, but sonically gratifying as well.
What Enslaved has achieved in the last five years is the ability to wear the mantle of being the leaders in progressive black metal, a title which so few have even strived for. The journey really began with Isa and and is now culminating in Vertebrae. Yes, the others albums prior to Isa, (Mardraum, Monumension and Below the Lights), were leaning in the progressive direction, but Isa really drew the line in the sand that showed Enslaved as a progressively minded band with a desire to defy the conventions of black metal and create masterpieces of art that would stand as musical testaments, much like the progressive rock giants of the seventies, (Pink Floyd, Gentle Giant, Camel, King Crimson).
The musical output on Vertebrae capitalizes on the strengths of both Isa and Ruun and continues even further in the direction that both of those albums so eloquently travelled. Vertebrae is truly going to be a hard album to top. Everything from the Floydesque clean vocal harmonies to the discordant guitar parts are all expertly woven together to create what is their current masterpiece. Truly, this is the album to buy this year, no doubt about it. If you liked Isa and Ruun, then you shouldn’t even think twice about this purchase, and if you are an Enslaved fan, then your collection is seriously lacking without this album. Take my word for it; this album lives up to all of the hype.