Greatness and Enslaved seem to go hand in hand these days, their recorded output is unarguably second to none, and their latest offering is guaranteed to continue the ascendancy of one of modern Metal’s most fearless bands.
“Thurisaz Dreaming”, wastes no time in bludgeoning the senses with an immediate Black Metal attack before Enslaved’s now patented dynamics kick in and clean vocals interrupt the assault. Settling into a hypnotic groove and a melodic mid-tempo section, there are moments where you could be forgiven for thinking Dream Theater had introduced Black Metal elements to their operatic Prog Metal.
Enslaved may have upped the melodic ante on In Times but don’t panic, we are not in modern Opeth territory here. Enslaved have not forgotten their roots and instead architect their own war between light and shade; unsuppressed violence sharing time and space with moments of calm and exquisite beauty. This juxtaposition has been their bread and butter since 2004’s Isa album and is exemplified perfectly on “Building With Fire” and “One Thousand Years Of Rain”; roaring Extreme Metal breathing the same air as borderline radio-friendly Hard Rock.
Don’t let that description fool you, Black Metal’s double kick drums, tremolo riffing, rasping vocals and violent, caustic atmosphere are ever present but Enslaved are so ‘post’ Black Metal in 2015 they simply plunder the genre’s techniques for their own ends rather than faithfully adhering to its rules.
It’s on the title-track that Enslaved’s Extreme Metal tightrope walk between melody and malevolence comes to the fore. Staccato riffing and fluid leads provide the head banging cues while Grutle Kjellson’s harmonies during this epic track’s evocative interludes are particularly exquisite.
It’s all too easy to become bogged down with superlatives and clever metaphors when attempting to describe an album as adventurous and multifaceted as In Times. In truth, all you really need to know is that this is a truly outstanding album and should be mandatory listening in 2015.
Accusations of Enslaved softening their sound will abound but ignore the purists who balk at change and embrace a band who personify Progressive. In Times is an album that demands immersion, so dive in and wallow in its nihilistic beauty. 9/10