Axioma Ethica Odini
27 September 2010
by Tom Dare
What do you do when you’re one of the most consistently brilliant bands of your generation, and have managed to stay fresh, renewing your style successfully several times over the course of ten albums? Well, if you’re Enslaved you refresh yourself yet again on album number eleven and turn in one of the finest records of a glittering career.
Following on from 2008’s sombrely excellent Vertebrae, which won them yet another Spellemanprisen (their third album in succession to win the Norwegian equivalent of a Grammy), Axioma Ethica Odini finds Enslaved striding confidently into yet more new territory. Marching straight into the light after the lush dark night of Vertebrae, they have brought back some of the harshness that was reined in last time out, while expanding the prog influence even further.
Opener ‘Ethica Odini’ immediately grabs your attention with one of those riffs that Enslaved do so well – black metal aggression melded with a slightly softer, more subtle beauty. Grutle’s gravely growls are as horrible and barbaric as ever, and provide the perfect counterpoint for Herbrand’s exquisite croon to flit in between. The clean vocals are used extensively throughout Axioma…, perhaps even more than at any point previously in the band’s career, but they never blunt their overall attack.
When things move into more progressive territory with ‘Waruun’, there are some powerfully Opeth-esque moments. Perhaps it is the marrying of extreme metal guitars with prog, of harsh vocals mixing with clean singing or of Jens Bogren’s trademark production sound, but Mikael Åkerfeldt would probably be proud to have his name attached to moments such as these.
Watch Enslaved answer their fans’ questions:
There is a characteristic ebb and flow to Enslaved that sounds like none other. The stomping hostility of ‘The Beacon’ gives way to the ambience of ‘Axioma, while ‘Night Sight’ starts of in near-acoustic melodic territory before ducking into fury and out again into gentle flutes, before diving back into the filthy stuff again. Things culminate with the exquisite ‘Lightening’, Ice Dale’s soulful lead guitar only hinting at the complex mastery that awaits.
Enslaved are still very much in touch with their roots – the Bathory influence may be highly evolved, but has not been lost – and are clearly still bursting with creativity after 16 years of releasing records. Having long-since begun to influence some of the younger bands coming along, they remain right at the prow of the black metal longship – both in quality and relevance. The expectation on the band’s shoulders may be perpetually high, but this expectation is gloriously met.
Sounds like: Bathory meets Pink Floyd with Opeth’s production
Top tracks: Ethica Odini, Waruun, Night Sight
Enslaved- Axioma Ethica Odini tracklisting: