Enslaved continues its metamorphosis into one of, if not THE most important black metal bands on the planet. Whether or not you like their continued movement towards progressive rock, a la Opeth, you cannot deny that the band is making some truly epic metal. And with their latest release, E, the band shows that it is streets ahead of the competition and hot on the heels of Michael Akerfeldt and co. But, don’t despair, dear listener, the band hasn’t fully transformed into a melodic prog metal act, Grutle’s growls are still very much at the forefront of this record, however, alongside the growls there are heavy doses of melody and atmosphere backed by some outstanding musicianship. Yes! this album is much to my liking.
I’ve come across a few folk critisizing the production on this record, but I disagree, I think it is wonderful. The production on E effortlessly allows the guitar, bass and drums to operate alongside the superb keys and samples, never drowning them out or fighting to be heard. The vocals are quite high in the mix but I’m okay with this as they are integral to the Enslaved sound.
E is an album of incredible depth, both in its songwriting and the musicianship. The tracks never allow the listener to rest on his/her laurels. At one moment you are treated to soaring melodies and vocal lines, the next, blast beats and crushing guitar. It is a balancing act that Enslaved are masters of controlling and it makes for a varied record with numerous tempo and mood changes.
There are only eight tracks on E, though with a run time of close to 50 minutes you definitely get your money’s worth. It is a little bit of a shame that the two tracks released thus far, Storm Son and The River’s Mouth are the two real standout songs from the album. That isn’t to say that the rest isn’t great, it is!
If you like what you hear with these two tracks then I have no doubt you will love this album, however, if the continued progression into more melody-heavy waters isn’t for you then keep playing their pre 2000 albums. For metalheads open and welcoming of new sounds and experiences within black metal, E is the perfect record.