ENSLAVED – Vertebrae

Ten albums in to the band’s musical evolution, the mighty ENSLAVED continues to refine their richly developed progressive elements with the release of Vertebrae. Introspective and imaginative, the listener is essentially given a virtual soundtrack provoking images of high mountains,dark woods and deep fjords. Taking their time and with great attention to detail, the band utilizes open spaces to paint involved, textured audio pictures. Sounding both immense and warm at the same time, Vertebrae allows the listener to absorb the structured, well-thought out melodies without resorting to overly technical or busy trickery. Constantly shifting and building, the album will probably alienate most ADD-ridden music fans, but those patient enough to commit to the album will find new rewards with each new listen. Helping to capture the band’s vision is TOOL producer Joe Barresi, whose crystal clear clarity with the mix help’s realize the album’s unique subtleties. Frontman Grutle Kjellson offers a nice balance between rich, clean melodies and harsh black metal snarls. Musically, it’s hard to pick out any real individual highlights as each instrument compliments one another and blends forth as a strong unit as oppossed to one musician outshining another. This great chemistry between the band members complimenting one another greatly strengthens the overall performances on Vertebrae making the band’s grand ideas a reality. With the release of Vertebrae, ENSLAVED has once again reached a new plateau in the world of mind-expanding progressive black metal. (Nuclear Blast Records)

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