ENSLAVED get straight to the point with their most straight forward and catchy album in years. Incorporating a strong influence of their early era, In Times is the band’s most direct and blackest work since Isa and Ruun, or even Blodhemn. Don’t worry, their trademark prog stylings, instrumental interludes, and ice cool guitars remain intact.
What also stands out about In Times is the lack of meandering song sections or weak material. It’s all lean and optimized. Six flawless and dynamic songs, each clocking in at a minimum of 8+ minutes, are all that is necessary to make their statement. The great part is that ENSLAVED glide through each song with ease.
If you wanted to introduce someone to ENSLAVED, “Building With Fire” might be the first song you play for them. It showcases their dynamic range and songwriting strengths. The transitions and hooks are excellent. The group chants in “One Thousand Years of Rain” conjures up nostalgia for the early sword-wielding ENSLAVED. The title track has a great building and release of tension in epic fashion. Album closer, “Daylight,” has sweet nods to PINK FLOYD.
It should be noted that vocalist/bassist Grutle Kjellson’s bass lines are wonderfully audible and find a great place in the mix. Also, drummer Cato Bekkevold’s performance here (as well as previous ENSLAVED records) should never be taken for granted. His great sense of feel, tasty fills, and Mikkey Dee-like power help make In Times special.
Most bands are a shell of themselves by a 13th album…not ENSLAVED. (Nuclear Blast Records)