Originally starting as a black metal band, Enslaved have always been about musical progression, not much unlike their peers in Borknagar, Arcturus and Solefald. Major leaps in style were especially achieved on their Mardraum (2000) and Below The Lights (2003) albums. From Isa (2004) and Ruun (2006) on, the band keep refining their specific sound incorporating even more psychedelics and prog rock influences. Pink Floyd is the obvious reference here. On Vertebrae (2008) their prog rock/viking/black metal hybrid style reached its zenith. Enter Axioma Ethica Odini, their latest release.
On their new album the Enslaved guys keep on refining their trademark sound as they did from Isa and Ruun on. There are a few twists though, because Axioma Ethica Odini is a lot more aggressive and contains way more nods to their Viking metal days than Vertebrae ever did. This is especially the case on Raidho, Waarun, Giants, Night Sight and Lightening.
Despite the apparent aggressiveness and enhanced black metal feel, the compositions are refined and multilayered as ever, thus retaining the progressive elements. The combination of the ferocious screams, beautifully contrasted by the solemn clean vocals, give Axioma Ethica Odini a sense of majestic grandeur which only Enslaved can deliver. The tastefully added keyboard parts enhance the overall feel and atmosphere. In songs like The Beacon, Singular and the aforementioned Giants those elements blend together in truly stunning fashion.
Production wise there is nothing to complain about. Axioma Ethica Odini has a warm and organic sound, but it is also rough enough to give this album an additional bite.
I don’t believe there is such a thing as the perfect record, however Enslaved come very close with Axioma Ethica Odini. Possibly their most comprehensive and best work to date!
written by Raymond Westland