Review Summary: With "The Sleeping Gods," Enslaved have crafted a great, if somewhat inconsistent, EP.
Enslaved's last effort, "Axioma Ethica Odini
," was my favourite album of last year, so it's safe to say that I went into their latest release, "The Sleeping Gods
,", with pretty high expectations. Did it meet them" Not quite- but this is still an excellent EP that I would easily recommend to anyone.
As far as the sound goes, I hesitate to call it similar to "Axioma
" because, while it does bear some resemblance to that album, this feels more like a "next step" release. You've still got your crushing riffs, clean and harsh vocal interplay, and other Enslaved staples, but this EP has a more hypnotic quality to it than their last few releases; the songs rely more on repetition (which isn't necessarily a bad thing,) and the presence of a six minute ambient track ("Synthesis") only further enhances this atmosphere.
The first two songs are probably the most "Enslaved-ish" on here, featuring some brilliant riffs, great drumming, and well-performed harsh and clean vocals- there are even some downright catchy moments (such as the chorus of "Heimvegen"). After these come the aforementioned "Synthesis," and then we're into the second half of the EP. "Nordlys," an instrumental, opens up sounding much brighter than most Enslaved tracks (it does eventually gets heavy though). While a cool track, it feels out of place in slot number four. With it's excellent, epic ending, it would have been a much more suitable closer. The closer that we do get, however, title track "The Sleeping Gods," is an almost overly-repetitious, Egyptian-influenced number that manages to feel heavy without any harsh vocals or jackhammer-esque drumming (which is an accomplishment in and of itself). While an interesting piece, it unfortunately doesn't really go anywhere, or at least not as far as it feels it should.
"The Sleeping Gods
" is a great EP. While it stumbles in spots, it is still a worthwhile listen and a meritorious addition to the band's discography. It may not be perfect, but few albums are, and as it is this a great effort from a great band.