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Enslaved - Vertebrae (CD)

by Yiannis Doukas at 11 October 2008, 10:30 AM

The progressive turn that ENSLAVED's music took after the Mardraum: Beyond The Within CD continues to impress and surprise. It was clear that the band had reached the limits of aggressiveness with albums like Blodhemn and if they continued just rehashing their previous works they would bring death.
Keeping in mind all these we have no other choice than admiring efforts like Monumension and Below The Lights, that declared a move forward. These albums - together with the previous two 'after Osmose era', Isa and Ruun - may be not the ultimate masterpieces but include really strange songs that demand the interest of the listener and, in the end, they reward him with wonderful traveling into his depths and into the mists of ancient times.
The Viking aura is still present in ENSLAVED, like their ancestors try to explore, without being afraid, leading them their curiosity and lust for knowing what is going on beyond. The same things are present in this last opus named Vertebrae. This time the reference in bands like TOOL is more than clear. Yes, I also have allergic symptoms when I hear that name but believe me these influences are so well-placed inside that fits perfect, creating a static micro cosmos inside every song. An undertone of PINK FLOYD, the legacy of ELOY mostly in the structure of their tracks, the VOIVOD era like in albums as Angel Rat and Outer Limits are mixed with some clear Black Metal riffing, cold tunes, hypotonic guitars with melodies that wriggle in the air together with a dipole of clean and blacking vocals. And all these played with enough hobbies - horse, inspiration and estrus musicianship.
Some parts are really majestic here. The elevating moment in Clouds, an immobilized beginning in To The Coast, pure Black Metal revenge and attack in New Dawn with a destructive almost apocalyptic color, the clever drumming in Reflections, traveling into the absurd and the void of cosmos with Center and an air of gloominess that The Watcher exposures. The last one - though of its heavy atmosphere - works as a redeployment, a wise reminiscence, like gathering power after many hits. The experience is absolute and in the end it will leave you with a detergency, like all your past nails upon your soul have been removed.
Vertebrae is not reinventing the wheel but offers some relaxation moments and for that it works very well. Past is past, not so lost in the mist since you will meet older recipes here too. The fact is that there are not many bands that their artistic fantasy is so bombastic in almost every new level they go. It's also worth checking their lyrics, mostly based in re-establishing the older rectitude in our polluted modern times with some others more allegoric settled into a parabolic world.

4 Star Rating

To The Coast
New Dawn
The Watcher
Grutle Kjellson - Vocals, Bass
Ivar Bjornson - Guitars, Keys
Arve Isdal - Guitars
Herbrand Larsen - Keys, Vocals
Cato Bekkevold - Drums
Record Label: Indie Recordings


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