ENSLAVED — The Sleeping Gods

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ENSLAVED - The Sleeping Gods cover
3.68 | 21 ratings | 7 reviews
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EP · 2011


1. Heimvegen (5:38)
2. Alu Misyrki (5:02)
3. Synthesis (6:19)
4. Nordlys (5:45)
5. The Sleeping Gods (5:44)

Total Time 28:28


- Ivar Bjørnson / Guitars, keyboards
- Grutle Kjellson / Vocals, bass
- Arve Isdal / Guitars
- Cato Bekkevold / Drums
- Herbrand Larsen / Keyboards, vocals, mellotron

About this release

Released electronically May 9th, 2011. Available for download at: http://preemtiv.com/emails/enslaved/

Thanks to Time Signature for the addition and Stooge, UMUR, adg211288 for the updates


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

Phonebook Eater

"The Sleeping Gods" is another example of how thought-provoking and pondering Enslaved are.

Not being familiar with the band Enslaved, I took my chances back in 2010 and listened to “Axioma Ethica Odini”, which ended up being one of my favorite albums of that year, and of progressive black metal in general. “The Sleeping Gods”, released the following year, did not to my surprise receive great ratings. This half hour long EP has great moments that make it a very enjoyable listen, and certainly is an underrated one.

Enslaved with this EP goes on a more experimental direction compared to “Axioma Ethica Odini”, experimenting with some interesting sounds, a bit of Folk, Ambient, and what not. The musicianship as usual is really good, the production even better, actually sounding quite ambitious and expensive for a Metal album. The vocals, however, are something that disappointed me a little bit, not really the shrieks, as they are always good when Grutle Kjellson does them, but the clean vocals, which sounded a bit generic and a little lost in the mix as well, and overall didn’t do much for me. But the experimentation, which surprised me, is what I really dug: fascinating, atmospheric keyboards, interesting song structures, progressive influences. All these elements are the ones I wish Enslaved would develop even more on their next LP’s.

Standout tracks include the opener “Heimvegen”, pretty straight-forward but very memorable, and because of that perhaps some fans might have been turned off by it, “Synthesis”, a very Ambient driven song, while “Nordlys” is more towards an Avant-Garde approach, and the title track a more Folk influenced song.

A widely eclectic, but very memorable EP, another of the many good examples of how Enslaved is a pondering and thought-provoking band, that will hopefully release even more grandiose efforts in the near future.
Less than a year since Axioma Ethica Odini, and Norwegian progressive black metal act Enslaved have returned with a free digital EP to satisfy their hungry fanbase. After the fantastic milestone that was Axioma Ethica Odini, the direction Enslaved has chosen to pursue on The Sleeping Gods may come as a bit of a surprise to some people. The band clearly isn't content with re-hashing the same album over and over again, and The Sleeping Gods is actually quite an experimental release that covers a wide variety of genres. Although not quite on par with some of the band's full-length albums, The Sleeping Gods is a very worthy EP that offers just enough deviation from the band's typical sound to make it a unique effort in their growing discography.

The music on The Sleeping Gods is quite varied, and a decent amount of it completely defies Enslaved's progressive black metal label. On this album you can expect progressive rock, black metal, punk, ambient, post-rock, tribal chants, and just about everything in-between. The Sleeping Gods is not a "typical" Enslaved release, but it's of unquestionably high quality, regardless. "Heimvegen" is the most "traditional" Enslaved song here, seeing that it features an epic viking metal feel throughout. "Alu Misyrki" is a bit punky and quite different from anything I've ever heard previously from Enslaved. "Synthesis" and "Nordlys" are both instrumental tracks, the former being a dark ambient piece and the latter being a fantastic post rock track. "Synthesis" is too drawn-out for my tastes, but it does set up a haunting atmosphere, which I'm sure is the primary focus of the song. The closing song, "The Sleeping Gods", is a Norwegian tribal track that (like "Synthesis") is a bit too repetitive for my tastes, but it's a quality track nonetheless.

The production and musicianship are (unsurprisingly) extremely professional and well-done. Enslaved are an extremely talented act that manages to perfect many different styles on The Sleeping Gods, and their quality as musicians is never once in question. The EP also features an organic, 70's-styled production that sounds absolutely wonderful to these ears.

So even though The Sleeping Gods isn't the most successful Enslaved release out there, it's still an excellent addition to any fan's collection and a highly enjoyable listen. Enslaved is a band that never plays it safe, and it shows more than ever on this diverse and experimental EP. The Sleeping Gods is also available for free and legal download, so there's no reason not to check it out! The Sleeping Gods deviates from Enslaved's typical sound while still keeping the quality high, and that's exactly what makes for a good EP in my opinion. 3.5 stars are well-deserved.
Conor Fynes
'The Sleeping Gods' - Enslaved (6/10)

After a strong album in 2010 with 'Axioma Ethica Odini', Enslaved comes hot on that album's heels with a free EP. Giving fans their latest fix with a batch of five songs, 'The Sleeping Gods' does not feel like anything particularly significant in the band's catalogue, instead feeling like the band just wanting to get some more music out there for people to listen to and enjoy. For what this short album lacks in longevity and depth however, it is certainly enjoyable while it lasts, with each track taking its own very distinct path. Being arguably the most diverse thing that Enslaved has ever released in their career, 'The Sleeping Gods' is a good, interesting EP from the band, even if it may be little more than merely that.

The first song 'Heimvegen' is arguably the most typical Enslaved track that we have become used to hearing from albums like 'Vertebrae', and the latest. It is arguably the best thing that 'The Sleeping Gods' has to offer, and manages to pack some black metal, gradual build ups, as well as an epic chorus section to climax things. 'Alu Misyrki' isn't quite a s memorable, but it is certainly more energetic, taking the tempo up a few notches and diving deeper into black metal territory. Reaching the middle of the EP comes a big surprise from Enslaved, a six minute ambient soundscape piece called 'Synthesis'. Although it is certainly atmospheric, it does tend to get fairly boring and overdrawn, plodding on through muffled whispers and electronic ambiance. Although it is refreshing and to the EP's benefit to switch things up like this halfway through, 'Synthesis' could have likely had more of an impact were it somewhat shorter, as opposed to being the longest piece on the album.

If 'Synthesis' was surprise enough, then 'Nordlys' tops it. Enslaved has always been adventurous with what they do, but taking their sound into what feels more like post-punk than anything else was certainly an unexpected twist. 'Nordlys' is an instrumental track that begins off on a fairly upbeat note, sounding almost as if Enslaved were covering a track by The Cure, believe it or not. The track eventually barrels down to some heavier viking metal riffs, but the initial excitement makes it a very cool track. And lastly is a track that feels much more familiar to the Enslaved fan than the previous two; the title track. 'The Sleeping Gods' is a song that seeks out Enslaved's pagan folk roots; something that was explored as far back as the band's earliest albums. Led on by deep vocals from Grutle Kjellson and booming drums, the song has a presence to it, but it is a little derivative and feels like the band did this sound quite a bit better with early pagan songs like 'Yggdrasil', off 1994's 'Frost' record. In any case, it caps off 'The Sleeping Gods' in a somewhat triumphant mood, even if it may not be the best track here.

Although Enslaved has not created something I believe will hold much weight by the time the next album rolls around, there are few EPs or albums out there I can think of where each song is distinctive from one another. 'The Sleeping Gods' is a strong interim release from this band, and has made me excited to hear the next full-length from these giants of black metal.
The Sleeping Gods is a 2011 EP release by Norway’s Enslaved, which has been made available for free download. The release contains five tracks and is best considered as an experimentation release as it’s a mixed bag of several different genres of music, and not all of the release comes close to what the band is known for, that being progressive black metal.

The EP’s first track Heimvegen stands as the most typical Enslaved track on the release and shouldn’t really raise any eyebrows from an established fan of the band, and certainly wouldn’t sound out of place on the prior full-length album Axioma Ethica Odini from 2010. Things really change with each track herein though. Second offering Alu Misyrki retains the same level of heaviness heard on Heimvegen and has some similarities but I also detect something of a punk edge to the track, resulting in something that reminds me of Darkthrone’s recent output, but with the added depth Enslaved give it by nature of clean vocals. It also sounds somewhat more polished from a production standpoint.

It’s here that things really get thrown up in the air with the track Synthesis, which is an ambient piece. It’s the longest track on the EP at close to six and a half minutes. Synthesis is a nice unexpected addition after the first couple of tracks in that it would not have been unexpected in perhaps a full-length for a track of this style to be included as an interlude, as was done with Axioma Ethica Odini’s Axioma track, but here is presented as a full song in its own right, showcasing that Enslaved is no one trick pony. Here they’re essentially trying their hand at mood music and for me it works pretty well, the track is pretty relaxing and retains the same sort of mood that I came to expect from the earlier more metal orientated tracks.

Nordlys is somewhat similar to Synthesis in that it’s more atmospheric than the first two songs. Here instruments such as the guitars return but the output is not metal at all. I’m not entirely sure what style to brand this one as but atmospheric rock sounds most appropriate. After Synthesis it doesn’t seem such a strange addition, but we’re whole worlds away from where the EP started with Heimvegen and Alu Misyrki. Once again the piece comes across as relaxing mood music.

In contrast to everything heard previously the EP’s title track The Sleeping Gods is more of a folk based piece, featuring chanting vocals, tribal drumming and a general mood that just throws one back to the Viking Age. Like all the tracks on the EP it is pretty long, perhaps too long in this case. I could imagine a shorter track in this style working very well in an album which would mainly contained songs in the sort of style heard earlier on the EP, perhaps as an intro piece or an outro piece (which in a way this essentially is, although it is presented as a full song).

Overall The Sleeping Gods is a solid, well composed EP from Enslaved that for me seems designed to showcase many different influences. Because it is so varied over only five songs makes me think that perhaps not everyone will like everything on it, but hey, it’s free, what more do you want? That alone makes The Sleeping Gods an essential download for anyone even with only a passing interest in Enslaved. That’s why I downloaded the EP and it’s made me come away thinking that I need to look into this band some more. Good stuff all around.

(Originally written for Heavy Metal Haven, scoring 8.2/10)
Time Signature

Genre: progressive black metal / alternative rock / soundscape

This EP was recently released electronically and has generously been made freely available for download - see the album entry for more information.

It seems that Enslaved have used this EP to release some more experimental material which is far removed from their black metal roots, and I think that the material on this release is actually quite good. Not only is in an interesting EP, but it is also a varied one which covers a number of genres.

The opening track "Heimvegen" is perhaps the track on the EP that has more in common with Enslaved's 'normal' sound, being a dark progressive black metal track with an atmospheric bridge and an overall melancholic feel to the distorted guitars, which - at times - have an almost 70s rock sound to them.

The second track "Alu Misyrki" quite a punky track - with D-beating and all - and it reminds me a bit of some of Celtic Frost's early material which is quite inspired by Discharge. Still, there are interesting atmospheric vocals in the chorus and an awesome couple of heavier riffs that pop up now and then.

"synthesis" is a dark soundscape track, while "Nordlys" strikes me as being more of a melancholic alternative rock track, but with some similarity to Paradise Lost on their least metallic releases. Don't let the non-metalness scare you; this is a really awesome instrumental track, and perhaps my favorite of this EP.

The title track is more of an experimental viking chant song which, for some reason, reminds me of a Danish folk viking act called Krauka. It it probably because it draws on the same cultural repertoire of musical conventions and expressions.

you should not expect this to be a full on black metal - not even a full on progressive black metal - release, but rather, as mentioned above, "The Sleeping Gods" appears to be an outlet for more experimental tracks. If you can live with that, I suggest that you check it out, because it is actually a very interesting release with some haunting and compelling music on it.
"The Sleeping Gods" is an EP release by Norwegian black metal/ progressive metal act Enslaved. "The Sleeping Gods" was electronically released on the 9th of May 2011 and made available for free legal download ( details in the album entry).

The EP contains 5 tracks and a full playing time of 28:28 minutes. Compared to the band´s last release "Axioma Ethica Odini (2010)", the sound on "The Sleeping Gods" is a lot less metallic and more organic. It´s amazing how sound production can change so much. "The Sleeping Gods" sound very different from "Axioma Ethica Odini". Enslaved´s core sound is intact but the 5 tracks on "The Sleeping Gods", see the band venture into unknown territories. As always Enslaved display a bold and adventurous approach to writing music. "Heimvegen" that opens "The Sleeping Gods" is probably the track on the EP that is closest in sound to how Enslaved have sounded the last couple of years. Epic and progressive black metal. The second track "Alu Misyrki" has a punked edge and it´s actually quite different and more direct than what we´re used to hearing from the band. That´s nothing against how surprising the ambient/ synth sequenced "Synthesis" sounds though. It´s a bit long drawn for my taste, but it features a great dark atmosphere. "Nordlys" is like "Synthesis", a predominanlty instrumental piece ("Synthesis" features some eerie whispering). "Nordlys" has a kind of post-rock/ metal sound to it though. Again it´s rather different from the band´s usual sound. The EP ends with the chanting/ folky/ tribal drumming title track. It´s a bit repetitive but that is probably the point. Chants usually are. It´s interesting to note that the primary language used in the lyrics is Norwegian. It´s been a while since the band focused on their own language this much.

If you ask me "The Sleeping Gods" does what a good EP is suppossed to. It experiments and brings out ideas not necessarily suited for an artists "regular" studio albums. "The Sleeping Gods" is a very successful release in that respect. Quality wise I think the tracks on the EP are sligthly less interesting than the band´s usually very high quality material, but "The Sleeping Gods" is still definitely a release both fans of the band and more casual listeners could find interesting. The latter group should take notice that the EP, as mentioned above, is offered up for free download. A 3.5 star rating is deserved.

Members reviews

The Sleeping Gods is one of Enslaved's best releases IMO, because of its variety and innovation. Aren't skill and creativity why we're here at MMA? It shows the band moving into previously unexplored territory. At the same time, it maintains Enslaved's typical high level of composing and performing quality. I give The Sleeping Gods an enthusiastic 4 stars. Enslaved doesn't put out junk, so this whole CD is quite listenable.

For those who aren't as familiar with Enslaved, "Heimvegen" is an fine, representative place to start. However, I'm going with "Nordlys" and "The Sleeping Gods". They strongly demonstrate Enslaved's customary willingness to try new things, which is probably the best thing about this EP. Some of the songs like "Synthesis" drag on a bit, and I wouldn't pick The Sleeping Gods as the first Enslaved CD to listen to. However, it's still an excellent addition to collection, if innovative metal is your cup of tea. thwok | 4/5 | 2014-9-6

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