Enslaved - The Sleeping Gods (EP) (2011)



Enslaved is a band that needs to introduction. We know them, know their catalog, know their style. So, if I told you that they have a new EP available for the glittery, twinkling price of "free," I would assume that you are as excited as I was. The folks at Scion A/V are doing something that the music industry needs to start doing more often: giving away great metal. For now, we are content to have awoken "The Sleeping Gods."

The light chugging of guitars crashes into an earthquake of bass, and the opening track, "Heimvegen," begins. Sterling clean vocals emerge in the early verses, only to be replaced by devilish growling as the track progresses. The precise, yet power-packed crash of snare and cymbal highlights each passing frame. The bass line is devastating, rolling through the rack with clean, pure low end. The use of chanting behind the lead vocals is a well thought out layer. A descending scale leads to a choreographed cymbal crash and stop.

The more aggressive "Alu Misyrki" has all of the musical makings of a true black metal piece, with guitars thrashing amidst a flood of high octane drumming. The singing, however, is harsh with a sparse use of clean, melodic vocals. A surprise solo bursts, cutting through the barrage with a twisting winding bit of fret work. The track breaks into a keyboard backed stomp, with screams aplenty. "Synthesis" is aptly titled, with the low roll of electronics occupying the entire length of the track. The thunder is constant, with softly whispered vocals popping up here and there.

The band show off their melodic sensibilities in the opening measures of the instrumental, "Nordlys," before letting distortion rule. There is something dark and sinister about the track, stemming from the loud, penetrating double kicks and blitzing snare rolls. The song switches back to an evil melody, lead by a fierce, galloping bass line. The song cuts to a single clean guitar, and fades away. The album finale, and title track, begins with pounding, almost tribal, drums. The chanting vocals that dominate the track are cold, but deep. Layers of crashing drums and cymbals are added, with synthesized notes tying the pieces together. An odd composition, but not short on creativity.

Let's face it, free music is just that: free. So, while it may seem easy to complain that this isn't Enslaved at their best, it is still better than so many albums you had to pay for this year. The band have branched out slightly, trying their hand at some different styles. Everything presented is strong, in it's old right, but not in that gritty, progressive black metal way that we may have come to expect. That said, the album is perfect for the price. Sold!

7.5/10

Official Site - http://www.enslaved.no/