(Nuclear Blast Records)
While it’s not necessarily surprising that Norwegian extreme metal icons Enslaved have released three perfect albums in a row, it’s still worth mentioning, because…holy crap. Ever since the band’s sound took a turn towards the progressive around the 2000’s or so, each record they’ve released has been consistently better than the one before it, a trend that certainly hasn’t ceased with In Times.
One of the truly great things about Enslaved’s evolution over the past few records is the way their music has gotten progressively more accessible, yet hasn’t sacrificed any heaviness. On “Building With Fire”, you get an astonishing mixture of the two. The way it opens with an awesomely catchy, driving riff with clean vocals and then a black metalish assault and back to the proggy part and back to the heavier chorus part is perfect. For all of the great riffs the album features though, my favorite is the intro to the title track. Sadly, I’ll never come up with anything near as perfect as that opening riff that goes on for like two minutes. Another of the album’s more enjoyable moments is on “Nauthir Bleeding” which sounds like it has a steel drum being played in the background of the main riff, giving off a weird Caribbean vibe.
I’m not quite sure what magical potion Enslaved have been drinking over the years that has allowed them to achieve what they’ve done, but I need some asap. In Times is a fascinating, mind-bendingly bad ass album that has a lot of the elements I’ve come to love on their few records, but it’s leaner, meaner and just as good, if not better than expected! (Brandon Ringo)