‘In Times’ is Enslaved’s most ambitious album

Over the 24 years of their existence Enslaved have evolved and developed their sound from outright black metal to more progressive song structures, adding clean vocals and keyboards along the way. Now the band around masterminds and founding members Ivar Bjornson and Grutle Kjellson have released their tenth full length album ‘In Times’.

The first thing you notice even before you start listening to ‘In Times’ is that it contains only six songs. However, the shortest is ‘Nauthir Bleeding’ with just over eight minutes. This means we are in for even more elaborate song structures and probably a lot more progressive metal. The first song ‘Thurisaz Dreaming’ lives up to this expectation. It starts with a blast of double-bass action, a lightning fast riff and Grutle’s screeching vocals. This is extreme metal at its best. The song soon ventures into a progressive part with clean vocal, cleaner guitars and more keyboards. However, the song always comes back to the blackish atmosphere from the opening riff.

The second song ‘Building With Fire’ starts the other way around and is in general more on the progressive side than the extreme metal side. Parts of it can go through as classic metal. Herbrand Larsen’s clean vocals are in the foreground. Here and there Grutle’s harsh vocals break into the song and some of the riffs spread the black atmosphere from the first song. ‘One Thousand Years Of Rain’ starts with a disharmonic guitar melody before tha band starts galloping through the first half of the song with driving riffs and melodies. The interplay between harsh and clean vocals is the main feature of this song, keeps it fresh and interesting at every twist and turn. A break in the last third of the track changes the atmosphere with references to doom metal.

‘Nauthir Bleeding’ starts with an accoustic intro that remains somewhere between jazz and Pink Floyd. After 90 seconds the songs changes to the probably blackest song on ‘In Times’. There are a few breaks that go back to the jazz references from the beginning of the song.  Track number 5 is then the title track ‘In Times’. The first two and a half minutes of the song are progressive rock with psychedelic influences before it gets heavier and heavier. Again the interplay between harsh and clean vocals marks the change between atmospheres from dark extreme metal to dream-like progressive rock parts that find their climax in the big break in the middle of the song. The final song ‘Daylight’ is the slowest on ‘In Times’. It is again another journey through different styles, genres and atmospheres and is a worthy final to a great album.

‘In Times’ is not an easy album. It demands a lot from the listener and probably releases all its treasure after a few time listening to it. Enslaved have perfected their sound over the last two decades and have created their most elaborate, progressive and ambitious album to date. The band achieves this without foregetting their roots and thereby creates a unique blend of sounds and atmospheres. ‘In Times’ is an outstanding album, an album that you cannot get passed if you are into progressive extreme metal.

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