Norwegian extreme Metal band Enslaved have always had a taste for the progressive and their twelfth release, 'RIITIIR', is no exception. The last twenty-one years have seen them continually develop and improve their sound and this latest offering is their best yet, each song carefully crafted and every aspect considered resulting in polished finish, but then I would expect no less.
The increasingly progressive edge to their sound makes this also their most listener friendly album to date. Clean vocals have played a much greater role in their songs since Herbrand joined in 2004 and continue to do so with 'RIITIIR', however the vocals are still dominated by Grutle's growl which keeps me happy. The psychedelic edge is still there also but maybe not as much as on 2010s 'Axioma Ethica Odini'.
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'RIITIIR' is awash with great riffs and melodies, but at the same time still has that powerful, exciting, blackened edge, very much in the same vein, again, as 'Axioma Ethica Odini'. Once more the song structures are very progressive, and shape up very much like a varied journey, filled with interest and atmosphere, the twists and turns of tempo evoking a broad spectrum of emotion. As a result, song lengths between five and eleven minutes work because your interest is fully maintained by the amount going on in each song.
Starting with 'Thoughts Like Hammers' which bursts open with chaotic distortion and roaring vocals.
On 'Death In The Eyes Of Dawn', Grutle's dirty vocals lend a sinister, haunting quality whilst a saddened feel is sensed from Herbrand's clean vocals.
'Veilburner' has a very progressive, synthesiser led opening which is laced with an abundance of crashing cymbals to add a very dramatic feel to the track.
Opening in a fast frantic manner, 'Roots Of The Mountain' has a slight blackened feel to it.
Although only five and a half minutes long, title track 'Riitiir' is intensely packed with a dark and tribal edge to the sound.
On 'Materal' the guitars and strong rhythmic drum beat give this track a very dark edge to it with the added bonus of a beautiful guitar solo midway through.
'Storm Of Memories' opens with a swirling, storm like amalgamation of vocal and instrumental sounds that gradually gathers momentum, building layers of sound as it progresses.
The final and longest track, 'Forsaken', opens with a haunting, distant, discordant piano before erupting into the dark atmospheric and exciting, marathon finale.
I have been privileged to listen to some excellent albums this year but to date, this is the best. Enslaved manage to blend the best elements of a progressive sound with the raw exciting aspects of black Metal.
Despite their long career and the level of excellence achieved in this album I still believe there is even better yet to come from this band. Every album seems to improve upon the previous and as yet they have shown no sign of reaching a musical plateau, their sound developing and evolving with every successive album.
'RIITIIR' will be released on 28th September on Nuclear Blast.