Enslaved – In Times (Nuclear Blast)

Thursday, 5th March 2015
Rating: 9/10

It’s hard to believe that it’s already been three years since Enslaved gave us RIITIIR, but a quick glance at the calendar will confirm that it’s true. Thankfully for the legion of Enslaved fans worldwide, these Norwegians are true stalwarts of their craft, accumulating now thirteen studio albums – all more or less great releases (of course some tend to be more partial to the earlier, more raw viking black metal than the later progressive black era, and vice versa). And to be certain there are some great releases as well spanning that middle, transformative period in the band’s legacy such as Blodhemn and Monumension, which tend to get overlooked a bit, but really, all Enslaved is good Enslaved.

In Times is an album that is very much the next step along the path of progressive black metal for the band, a continuation in the same vein as the last two albums, the aforementioned RIITIIR and Axioma Ethica Odini (which itself is a masterpiece). To that set of fans who hold fast to the 1990’s-era Enslaved sound and shun the melodic version of the band, you’ll probably be disappointed again, but it certainly shouldn’t be a surprise. The good news is that Enslaved, while furthering their melodic explorations on In Times, also display a good deal of that can-do black metal heft that they churn out so mightily. Really, this album marks a very nice balance of all sides of the band – perhaps one of their most balanced efforts yet.

“Thurisaz Dreaming” kicks things off in proper fashion – fast, heavy, musically interesting black metal as only they can do it. One listen to the track will let you know you’re in for another quality effort, and one which spans all tendencies the band have – from the furious to the psychedelic. The album has a good flow to it, with centerpiece “One Thousand Years of Rain” really shining. It’s a six-song outing of fifty-three minutes, which despite the generous length, passes fairly quickly in time well spent.

For anyone who has enjoyed the last decade of music Enslaved has released, this is yet another worthy addition to your collection, and in my humble opinion, a better album than their last release. Be sure to catch them as they trek across North America, this month – March of 2015.

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