It’s quite a challenge for a band to come with a worthy follow-up record when the previous album is one of the best in your career. That happened to Enslaved and their ISA record. It received great feedback and the public simply loved it. With such a tough act to follow a band has few options. You can either make a record which is very likewise or you can drastically alter your course with the risk of losing a part of your fan base. Enslaved chose to walk the middle road with Ruun…
On Ruun Björnson and Co preserve the progressive tendencies of ISA and Below The Lights, but integrate them better with their black metal/viking roots. They also use a more balanced and structured approach to their songs. This makes Ruun a somewhat easier album to get into. This is aptly demonstrated by Entroper, Path To Vanir and Fusion Of Sense And Earth.
What has remained is the multi-layered approach, the subtle layers of keyboards, clean vocals and the impressive screams and growls by Grutle Kjellson. The title track, Essence and Api-Vat are great examples of that. Tides Of Chaos and Heir To The Cosmic Seed are two other examples of Enslaved’s song writing prowess.
Production wise Ruun has a somewhat fuzzier production than its predecessor. This enhances the seventies prog rock feel, but reduces the cold black metal atmosphere which was an important trademark of ISA.
Ruun isn’t a major leap forwards as ISA was compared to Below The Lights. This album is all about balancing all the different influences that collectively make the signature Enslaved sound. The band really succeeded in that aspect. Ruun is a thoroughly enjoyable album, but simply not as cutting edge as its monumental predecessor.
Written by Raymond Westland