ENSLAVED — The Sleeping Gods (review)

ENSLAVED — The Sleeping Gods album cover EP · 2011 · Progressive Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
adg211288
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)
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