Not being much of a fan of Black Metal I didn’t pay a lot of attention to Enslaved’s earlier albums, the earliest one in my collection being 2004’s Isa. As good an album as that is, to my ears they have got better and better on each subsequent release as the prog quotient has increased to the highpoint of 2012’s Riitiir. In Times has a similar lush production to Riitiir but with just 6 tracks they have upped the prog elements even more.
Despite the prog elements Enslaved have still managed to not lose sight of their black metal roots as opener Thurisaz Dreaming certainly demonstrates coming straight in with frantic blastbeats and bassist Grutle Kjellson rasping black metal vocal style. Like the entire album the vocals alternate between Kjellson and keyboard player Herbrand Larsen’s cleaner vocal style which has improved greatly over recent releases.
While there are lighter moments extreme metal fans will be pleased to know that In Times contains some of the most brutal music I’ve heard from Enslaved, the dynamics of the songs giving the heavier sections even greater impact. The rich production does the music justice, so much better than the thin weedy sound of much black metal, the brutal riffing complimented by the lush keyboard textures. The songs twist and turn through numerous inventive changes keeping it all fresh and captivating, the eleven minute title track being particularly effective.
Fans of extreme prog metal are going to snap this one up and the bar has been set for prog metal album of the year. In Times is a stunning album that will reward with repeated listens, quite possibly their best yet. Perhaps it’s now time for me to start investigating those earlier Enslaved albums.