Thursday, January 14, 2016

Man of Much Metal's top album number 23

The Man of Much Metal has been doing a countdown of his top 30 albums. Below is an example, and the link. *
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Number 23
Enslaved
‘In Times’
Nuclear Blast Records
Enslaved are one of those bands that, if I’m being entirely honest, I’ve only really admired from afar. There is no disputing the fact that they are a highly accomplished band but up until now, their output has never truly resonated with me. That has changed with ‘In Times’, hence their inclusion within this list despite it being the strongest year to date since I started these mammoth countdowns.
The word ‘unique’ gets thrown about far too often when describing the output of heavy metal bands. However, Enslaved have become truly unique. A constant evolution over the years still sees their extreme metal roots intact but as the albums pass, the roots have become ever-more intrinsically linked to, and entwined with, other elements. Progressive rock and metal, ambient, post-rock, jazz and a whole host of other ideas collide in what can only be described as some of the most fascinating and rewarding heavy metal currently being created anywhere in the world.
But more than that, to these ears at least, ‘In Times’ is as warm and inviting as it is cold, extreme and challenging. There are accessible moments on this record and strong passages that stick in the mind long after the record has stopped playing, more so than on any previous release by the Norwegians. I may be shot down by that last statement, but it is certainly how I perceive things.
‘Thuriasz Dreaming’ may begin in a spiky and confrontational manner, much more aligned with their black metal roots, but as the track develops, more in the way of experimentation comes to the fore including quieter passages, almost discordant sounds and those clean vocals that juxtapose the more guttural delivery excellently.
By contrast, ‘Build With Fire’ is a much more catchy and up-tempo track that bounds along and even introduces a lead guitar solo in the latter stages. ‘One Thousand Years Of Rain’ injects a touch of folk metal into proceedings whilst ‘Nauthir Bleeding’ changes the pace yet again. It is more symphonic and epic in nature but features a great riff at the midway point as well as yet another guitar solo to hammer home the almost euphoric nature of this track.
Containing just six tracks, it is fundamental that each of the compositions adds weight to the overall album and that there are no weak moments. That’s exactly the case here as Enslaved, assisted by a great in-house production and mastering job by Fascination Street Studios, are seemingly incapable of delivering anything short of superb. I love the increased black metal elements and coupled with an increased sense of experimentation and drama throughout, ‘In Times’ is arguably the best that Enslaved have ever sounded.
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