Release Date: Mar 10, 2015
Record label: Nuclear Blast
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Heavy Metal, Progressive Metal, Black Metal
Thirteen studio albums in, Norway's Enslaved are still pushing at the boundaries of the music that inspired them back in 1991 when guitarist Ivar Bjørnson and vocalist/bassist Grutle Kjellson (13 and 17 years old at the time) first formed the band. With a lineup that has been constant for more than a decade, they have continually redefined the parameters and possibilities for black metal. In Times is, in many ways, a continuum of the sonic approach they began exploring on 2009's Monumension.
The genius of Scandinavian extreme metallers Enslaved is their ability to deconstruct without destroying. They've been gleefully dismantling black and death metal tropes for most of their career, often spiralling out into the progressive and experimental, but they never smash the templates so completely that they can't return to the forms and gestures that make the most creative sense. Their 13th studio album, In Times, might be the finest example of this balance yet, as it finds the band completely unafraid to smash black metal atoms into grim and frostbitten quarks while simultaneously sinking into deeply satisfying, almost traditional passages.
Black metal has a (somewhat deserved) reputation for militant musical conservatism, with any deviation from form, however slight, meeting with derision from elitists. This stereotype persists even though the most visible and critically lauded bands are often the ones who buck conventions, whether the results succeed or not. (The embrace of Nachtmystium’s half-baked psychedelic black metal is a perfect example, as is any given Liturgy press cycle.) Norway’s Enslaved have coasted on that odd critical goodwill for some time now.