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ENSLAVED - Ruun cover
3.90 | 30 ratings | 3 reviews
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Album · 2006

Filed under Black Metal


1. Entroper (6:21)
2. Path to Vanir (4:25)
3. Fusion of Sense and Earth (5:00)
4. Ruun (6:49)
5. Tides of Chaos (5:16)
6. Essence (6:18)
7. Api-Vat (6:57)
8. Heir to the Cosmic Seed (4:55)

Total Time: 46:03


Grutle Kjellson: Vocals, Bass
Ivar Bjørnson: Guitar, Effects
Arve Isdal: Guitar
Cato Bekkevold: Drums
Herbrand Larsen: Keyboards, Clean Vocals

About this release

Gatefold LP version released by Back On Black.

Thanks to Prog Geo for the updates


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Enslaved's Ruun sees the band leaning even further towards the prog-metal side of their sound than they did on Isa, with some post-rock influences also creeping in here and there. In fact, I'd say that the band are in danger of losing their distinctive identity on this album, though they retain sufficient black metal elements to save themselves from this. I think what makes the album work (despite it coming close to not working) is that, as always, Enslaved show a great command of atmosphere, and in general are able to evoke the cold wintry airs they want to go for on here, though even then a few compositions drag on just a little.
Ruun marks the end of Enslaved's progression. In fact they had reached that endpoint already with Below the Lights, but the mighty Isa consolidated their black metal styled prog. Ruun is still a good album but it does not continue to surprise me, nor does it manage to be entirely consistent. The artwork is really cool though.

A first step down are the clean vocals. Judging from the live DVD’s, keyboard player Herbrand Larsen handles most of them now. And while Grutle Kjellson was never amazing at clean vocals either, he still had some poise and conviction when delivering them. Larsen however is flat and tuneless, mostly singing all his lines on one and the same dreary tone with next to no inflection. He also sounds very insecure and unsteady, even out of tune sometimes as on Entroper. But the list of examples is endless.

A second weakness is the predictability of the music. Enslaved stick to their trade and avoid all those marvellous trips and experiments that flourished on Monumension and Below the Lights. Here and there some new influences can be heard though: next to the plethora of Voivod riffs and Floyd psychedelics, also a Tool influence is notable now, as on the title track Ruun. Unfortunately that is one of the tracks that is dead born due to the inadequate vocals. In fact there’s only one moment that grips me on this album and that is where Grutle Kjelson manages most of the vocals. The gorgeous Heir To The Cosmic Seed is a 5 star ending for sure.

As the music is generally very good again, I could try to ignore the feeble clean vocals and still consider 4 stars. But that will be for a day when I'm in a less grouchy mood!
Conor Fynes
'Ruun' - Enslaved (7/10)

Bridging the gap between their somewhat underwhelming 'Isa' and what I consider to be their modern masterpiece 'Vertebrae', 'Ruun' shows a fairly big step for the music of Enslaved. Although the Norwegian black metal outfit had already incorporated ample doses of progressive rock into their sound on albums past, it had not yet sounded so profound as it does here. While the music is indeed black metal, 'Ruun' is the vanguard for Enslaved's recent, up-to-date sound, and while I do not find it quite as memorable as the masterpieces which would succeed it, 'Ruun' is an excellent progressive black metal album, and a fine addition to a largely consistent discography.

From the epic faster pacing of the opening track 'Entroper,' it is made clear that Enslaved has put the energy back in their music here, and while parts of the sound still sound a shade too cleanly cut as they did on 'Isa', the development is quickly noticeable. A relatively mid-tempo track like the single 'Path of Vanir' however does bring the band back down to their sound they had used for the few years prior. In terms of black metal, Enslaved is sure to be on the less abrasive side of things, especially by this point. With exception made to the traditional, raspy snarls of Grutle Kjellson, the sound may not be so easily identified with the black metal sub- genre in the first place. In fact, the title track 'Ruun' (and my personal favourite pick off the album) sounds as if it has more in touch with the post-metal stylings of Tool than any extreme act.

Although the music here is kept quite consistent and strong throughout, there is the feeling that it is not quite as memorable as it could have been. Perhaps this is due to the fact that 'Ruun' only passes me as being a less developed version of 'Vertebrae', or perhaps due to the fact that the band seems to still have much of the same dry presentation they did with 'Isa', albeit with the added dynamic and complexities here. Enslaved would see better days from this point on, and if anything, 'Ruun' should be lauded for bringing in Enslaved's sound as we know it now. On it's own, 'Ruun' should prove to be a great introduction to the band for those yet uninitiated, as well as a very good addition to any existing Enslaved fan's collection.

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