Review Summary: Enslaved return after their last successful album, "Vertebrae," with a release that, once again, fuses together their traditional Black Metal roots with their Progressive Rock influences. The results? Really damn good.
Originality. It's truly hard to come across in this day in time. If bands aren't trying to rip off the past musical influences, they're hopelessly trying to rip off the present. Black Metal happens to be a genre where this notion is quite true. Many modern Black Metal bands hopelessly try to recreate the style of Black Metal greats such as Burzum, Mayhem, Bathory, and more. While they might consider themselves to be "the real deal," bands like Enslaved are very few and far between. As a matter of fact, there is only one Enslaved, and they are truly something outstanding.
Enslaved have been very prominent in the Black Metal scene for quite sometime now, but they have never risen to the fame as some of the greats that are noted as the "true" Black Metal legends. However, Enslaved have always pursued a very different approach to Black Metal. Enslaved, unlike many other Black Metal bands, have taken the brutal and atmospheric music of Black Metal and mixed it with Progressive song structures with influences from classic Prog Rock bands such as Pink Floyd and Camel. Over the years, their writing style has grown more Progressive with each album. However, with "Axioma Ethica Odini," Enslaved finally seem to have found their true style; one which mixes Black Metal and Progressive Metal perfectly.
Throughout the album, Enslaved stick to their original Black Metal roots. Of course, they have never abandoned their Black Metal influences; however, what they have managed to do with this album is style a perfect mixture of all of their musical influences. The album contains a very heavy balance of melody and overall better song structure than their last album, "Vertebrae." The riff in the album's opening song "Ethica Odini" is quite memorable and sets up the song very nicely. As a matter of fact, "Ethica Odini" is the perfect opening song because it gives the listener a perfect sample of what's to come: memorable riffs, haunting vocal melodies, and epic song structures. Other songs such as "Waruun" and "Giants" continue to take the listener on a musical journey through Enslaved's very own world created by their extremely atmospheric music. Every song on the album manages to pull the listener in and just about every song is different in its own way.
The songwriting has changed in many ways since "Vertebrae." Instead of focusing on technicality with this album, the musicians in Enslaved seem to have focused more on filling the song with riffs and melodies that are fitting to the music. For example, Enslaved use many fast tremolo strummed progressions in the vane of many traditional Black Metal bands; however, with this album, Enslaved have taken those standard chord progressions and added more of their own feel to them. Using major scales and an assortment of more melodic scales and modes, Enslaved have managed, once again, to put their signature on "Axioma Ethica Odini." Also, lead singer and bassist, Grutle Kjellson, carries the music with his piercing screams and crooning voice. Over the years, Enslaved have included more singing in their music; however, with "Axioma Ethica Odini," the singing truly carries the music and the bulk of the songwriting is built around the Grutle's vocal melody's. While this might seem like a dumbing down of the traditional Enslaved sound, it definitely is not. It makes the music much more memorable and gives it a very structured sound. Songs like "Night Sight" show off Grutle's very Pink Floyd inspired vocals and feature one of the albums most memorable vocal melodies.
If you are an Enslaved fan, "Axioma Ethica Odini" is most definitely a must buy. Still, even if you are not a Black Metal fan or even that much of a Metal fan in general, it definitely wouldn't hurt to pick this album up. Who knows, you could become hooked! Enslaved have most definitely crafted their most comprehensive and outstanding album to date with "Axioma Ethica Odini." From the awesome kick off with "Ethica Odini" to the amazing closer "Lightening," this album stays consistently good with every listen. Black Metal fans and Progressive Metal fans can all rejoice!