ENSLAVED — Axioma Ethica Odini

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ENSLAVED - Axioma Ethica Odini cover
4.22 | 53 ratings | 8 reviews
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Album · 2010


1. Ethica Odini (7:59)
2. Raidho (6:01)
3. Waruun (6:42)
4. The Beacon (5:38)
5. Axioma (2:20)
6. Giants (6:37)
7. Singular (7:43)
8. Night Sight (7:36)
9. Lightening (7:51)

Total Time: 58:27


- Ivar Bjørnson / guitars, keyboards
- Grutle Kjellson / vocals, bass
- Arve Isdal / guitar
- Herbrand Larsen / keyboards, vocals
- Cato Bekkevold / drums

About this release

Label: Indie Recordings
EU release date: September 27th, 2010
US release date: September 28th, 2010

Recorded at three different studios in Bergen, Norway: Duper Studio, Earshot Studio and Peersonal Sound Studio.

Cover art by Norwegian artist Truls Espedal.

Available as a special edition in gatefold seven-inch format with the entire album on CD and a seven-inch vinyl single as a bonus, as well as a regular jewel case and double vinyl. The bonus seven-inch single includes new recordings
"Jotunblod" and "Migration".

Thanks to Vehemency for the addition and UMUR, adg211288 for the updates


More places to buy metal & ENSLAVED music

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Specialists/collaborators reviews

Axioma Ethica Odini finds Enslaved in the process of incorporating a higher proportion of black metal venom into their sound, after previous releases had downplayed that side of their music in order to further develop their progressive metal tendencies. The end result is a vicious progressive black metal trip which I consider to be their best album since Monumension, and certainly laid the stage for the excellent RIITIIR which followed. In fact, I'd be hard-pressed to pick a favourite between the two, but on balance I would say that this one just barely has the edge, if only for the incredible use of clean and bestial vocals.
"Axioma Ethica Odini" is the 11th full-length studio album by Norwegian black metal act Enslaved. The album was released in September 2010 by Indie Recordings. The "regular" version of the album contains 9 tracks but there is a special edition available which features two bonus tracks.

The music on "Axioma Ethica Odini" is epic sounding black metal (not symphonic) with a progressive edge. While Enslaved maintain their signature sound as they always have, "Axioma Ethica Odini" is a very different album from the band´s last album "Vertebrae (2008)". "Vertebrae" had an organic sound and a very obvious influence from seventies progressive rock. The progressive rock influence is also there on "Axioma Ethica Odini", but the album is much harsher and metal oriented than was the case with "Vertebrae". On the other hand of some of the clean sung parts and choruses on "Axioma Ethica Odini", are of the most accessible nature yet written by Enslaved. The clean vocals are of course accompanied by the raspy vocal delivery by Grutle Kjellson, which gives the vocal department nice variation.

The album is divided into two parts of 4 tracks each seperated by the short ambient instrumental "Axioma". At least that´s how the album feels like to me and I´m pretty sure that´s how the band wanted the listener to perceive the album. I like this way of doing things and I appreciate that the band obviously have given the sequence of the tracks a lot of thought. It´s important to have a good balance and flow on an album and that´s certainly the case here.

It´s interesting to note, that even though the music on the album is unmistakably the sound of Enslaved, the band have made little changes, adjustments and improvements to their sound, which gives "Axioma Ethica Odini" a unique position in the band´s discography. As an example the metallic and grand production sets the album apart from the last couple of albums and as a consequence provides Enslaved with yet another instrument to play on. Sound production is an extremely important aspect of creating music and the lavish and detailed sound production on "Axioma Ethica Odini" is a good example of why that is.

The album strikes a good balance between epic black metal and progressive extreme metal with space/ psychadelic rock moments. Parts of "Night Sight" even incorporate a prog folky vibe. The music is generally melodic and atmospheric but with the raw edge that characterize most black metal releases. Tracks like "Ethica Odini" and "Lightening" are simply wonderful, but the album is very consistent and there´s nothing here I would point to as a weak link.

It seems Enslaved just can´t fail and "Axioma Ethica Odini" is another high quality release by the band. The primary reason for the band´s success is the clever songwriting and the unique sound they have created over the years. Enslaved challenge themselves every time and add to that excellent musicianship and a really well sounding production and you have the foundation for a really great album. I´d say a 4.5 star rating is fully deserved.
It’s been since their previous masterpiece Isa that there was so much bite and aggression on an Enslaved album. The albums released since were all critically acclaimed but missed the typical Enslaved sharp edge. Not here, the pace is insistently high and vigorous and the vocals are full of aggression. More then once Enslaved remind me of Alchemist here, a fast paced Australian progressive metal band with thunderous tempos and dissonant Voivod riffs.

But there's more. As usual Enslaved varies grunts against clean singing, and this time around they both are marvelous. Grutle Kjellson sounds as furious of old, shrieking and snarling his way through the material. So be warned, if you already can't handle the warm and harmless grunts of Opeth, you shouldn't even be reading this review. The biggest improvement comes from Herbrand Larsen’s clean vocals, which were the weak link for me on Ruun and Vertebrae. Here they are stunning, beautifully harmonious, melancholic and delivered with warmth and steadiness.

So, we get more aggression, better dynamics, infectious tempos, more and better clean vocals, and a further increased progressive metal style with intricate riffing, spacey lead guitars and original keyboard work that carefully avoids the cliché pre-programmed keyboard sounds that everyone else is using. In songs as Lightening they sound very symphonic, almost to the point that Enslaved teaches Dimmu Borgir a lesson at black metal arts.

Enslaved is a leading example of how you can stay true to your musical vision and at the same time keep breaking boundaries in the genre. Axioma Ethica Odini is a perfect release from a band that has yet to release a weak album. Guaranteed 2010 top 5 material. One minor point though, after the last track I want even more of this. Considering it's an hour long metal release that should say enough about its extraordinary qualities.
This is my first encounter with Enslaved, and it's a pretty good one. I'm not really a black metal guy, but i just decided to try it. On one side i as pretty suprised that i liked it, and that it was quite diverse. On the other side, the vocals aren't really my thing. The beacon is without doubt my favourite track on the album. Sound quality is good, and it's just a solid record. Nothing more to say about it, except that everyone should give it a try, because i can like it, there is a big chance you can too!
Since their inception almost twenty years ago in Sveio, Norway, Enslaved has always been a force to be reckoned with in the black metal scene. With their eleventh studio album, Axioma Ethica Odini, they've once again proven to be at the top of their game. Seamlessly mixing crushing black metal and mellow seventies progressive rock, Enslaved has pulled off this formula with a feeling of consistency that few bands can emulate. This album will ruthlessly torture you with evil atmospheres and fast riffs, only to be at your side and heal you with a beautiful folk passage or clean vocal harmonies. Axioma Ethica Odini toys with your emotions, but manages to do so in an interesting and original way. Yes, this is a diverse and challenging listen that will take a few spins to wrap your head around - but it's worth every single one. If you like Enslaved, progressive metal, or black metal in general, Axioma Ethica Odini is an album that should rank high on your 2010 album list. This is a gem that every extreme metal fan should check out sooner rather than later.

The music here is a mix of black metal (on the more symphonic side), seventies progressive rock, and occasional death metal leanings in the vein of Opeth. Just in the powerful opening track ("Ethica Odini") alone, you can here this sound in its fullest form. This album is filled with sections that grab you at first listen, but it will take a few more spins to fully appreciate everything that Axioma Ethica Odini has to offer. A song like "The Beacon" (which I initially didn't like very much), now haunts me with its mystical chorus and supersonic black metal riffs. Though the music here is keyboard-laden, there are none of those cheesy keyboard tones that make you feel like you're listening to a power metal album about killing dragons and saving princesses. Expect organ, mellotron, orchestral tones, and the occasional synth like in the interlude track "Axioma". One of the biggest assets to Enslaved's music is their terrific musicianship, and that shines ever so brightly on Axioma Ethica Odini. The drumming from Cato Bekkevold has always been a highlight for me - I adore his playing style, and his chops are undeniable as well. The clean vocals from Herbrand Larsen are beautiful and melancholic, whereas the snarls from Grutle Kjellson are that of a possessed demon. Whether you like that or not is up to you, but I can conclude that the vocal department of Enslaved is jaw-dropping and their variation is noteworthy.

The production is terrific. Whereas most black metal sounds raw and harsh, Axioma Ethica Odini has a warm sound, often comparable to a seventies prog rock or heavy metal album. It seems that Enslaved has taken a hint from recent Opeth releases, notably Watershed and Ghost Reveries in terms of production. Although this extra coating of polish may turn off black metal purists, I think it fits the music perfectly - I wouldn't have it any other way.

Axioma Ethica Odini is a terrific album by Enslaved, and it proves what an unstoppable force these guys are. If this isn't "extreme prog metal album of the year 2010", it's awfully close. I have a feeling that we will be looking back on Axioma Ethica Odini as a defining progressive black metal album a few decades in the future. Although I was tempted to hand out 5 shiny ones, I'll go with a big 4.5 star rating for now. If you've been living under a rock and still haven't checked these guys out, I highly recommend jumping aboard now. Essential!
Conor Fynes
'Axioma Ethica Odini' - Enslaved (9/10)

After a very impressive introduction to this band with their 2008 release 'Vertebrae,' there's no denying that progressive black metal act Enslaved were on my radar as 2010 rolled around. Being known both for their epic take on the black metal sound and their consistent quality, Enslaved takes both of those traits and churns out yet another near-perfect masterpiece in 'Axioma Ethica Odini.' Never before has the band better incorporated their melodic influences, and created such a work that has pulled Enslaved's strengths together as they do here. In a year defined by the advent of quite a few significant black metal releases, Enslaved distinguish themselves.

To a newcomer, 'Axioma Ethica Odini' is best described as a melting pot of technical black metal and classic progressive rock. Comparisons to metal frontrunners Opeth are inevitable here; Enslaved takes the progressive landscape and polarizes it with heavy, complex metal sections and lighter atmospheric passages. While Enslaved may not hold a monopoly on the dark/light dynamic in the metal world, they certainly paint it with their unique sense of style.While black metal was typically very rough and primal in it's inception, Enslaved sees the genre to new heights. Among the blastbeats and near-inhuman growls are sounds that may seem alien to the black metal style; a wide array of keyboard sounds and the warm, clean tone of vocalist Grutle Kjellson's voice both play big roles in the music.

The album opens up with one of it's most epic and profound tracks, 'Ethica Odini.' A soaring guitar riff and grim growling vocals lead into a more complex section that melds catchy vocal melodies with some complex guitarwork. From there on, 'Ethica Odini' builds into an absolutely devastating track, and easily one of the best the album has to offer. Virtually every song here is solid throughout, although some tracks stand out more than others; the opener, 'The Beacon,' 'Giants,' and the closer 'Lightening' come to mind. The only song here that doesn't achieve excellence is the short interlude 'Axioma,' which certainly isn't meant to be considered anything more than a mere respite between album sides, but doesn't go anywhere beyond some fleeting ambience, and marks a small, if insignificant imperfection on the album.

Enslaved have certainly come a long way from their origins as orthodox black metal warriors. Although the band had already made their talent and warrant to acclaim clear with such earlier masterpieces as 'Isa' and 'Vertebrae,' 'Axioma Ethica Odini' only serves to reinforce Enslaved's place as one of the scene's leading acts.
The progressive-era Enslaved has been changing their sound on every album. Each album has taken a logical step from the previous. After Vertebrae seemed to isolate listeners with its nearly straight prog-rock approach, the fanbase worried that the next album would be even worse.

There is no need to fear with Axioma Ethica Odini.

Enslaved seemed to beef up the black metal elements as well as the atmosphere to create yet another unique-sounding album. This isn't entirely a black metal album though. Most of the tempi in the songs are fairly midtempo and the amount of tremolo picking is diluted. The atmosphere is huge on this album, but harsh. Imagine the riffs from Below the Lights, except slowed down and with a magical aura of synths behind them.

Standout tracks include the phenomenal opener, "Ethica Odini", which moves at a fast viking pace, and contains a melodic outro not unlike Muse, containing a fantastic guitar solo. "Giants" is very heavy for the band, using death metal vocals creating a song very similar to Opeth. "Singular" contains haunting vocals and similar energetic drive to the opener.

It gets unusual with "Night Sight", which opens with acoustic guitars and soft vocals, comprised mainly of modal chords and notes, with a few uncomfortable dissonances. This eventually builds into the more conventional sounds of progressive metal we are used to.

The closing track, "Lightening" is absolutely phenomenal. The opening riff is pure atmospheric magic, and the space of the track is beyond words.

All in all, this may be one of, if not the best album of Enslaved's progressive era. The band has certainly progressed their style of metal to a heavy, yet accessible and atmospheric. Axioma Ethica Odini is already a must have for metal fans, and anyone collecting prog or black metal needs it in their collection.
Time Signature

Genre: progressive black/viking metal

When a black metal band like is featured on a sampler CD distributed with a progressive rock journal, then you can make a safe bet that that band is pretty special. That's what happened with Enslaved, whose track "Ethica Odini" was featured on Prognosis 11, Prognosis being a series of sampler CDs that come with eacery issue of the Classic Rock Presents Prog magazine.

I checked out "Ethica Odini" and liked it. I liked how it was really dark and full of black metal elements and yet kind of progressive and complex, so I decided to buy the CD (I bought the one wit the 7'' vinyl bonus record), and I think it's a really good black metal release. What I like about it is that the black metal feel is always there - you know, the focus on creating an atmosphere - regardless of how progressive the songs get. The most progressive tracks are probably "Night Sight" and "Lightening" - "Night Sight" contains elements which remind me of alt. rock of the 1990s while "Lightening", for some unknown reason, remind me of Muse's latest record. Still, even these tracks are dark and bleak as hell, the way black metal should be. "Axioma" is the odd man out, being an atmospheric synth piece (the odd man out, but still, it fits the atmosphere of the entire record).

This should appeal to fans of black metal, who like the black metal atmosphere, but perhaps want more variation than what raw black metal usually offers.

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