Enslaved, from Norway, has created quite the exquisite Black Metal album with “Vertebrae”. Why do I use the adjective exquisite to describe this album? Well, I revere the Progressive Metal of Mastodon and Dream Theater, the legendary Progressive Rock of Pink Floyd and the groove infested Black Metal of Satyricon. Enslaved encompasses the most Metal and progressively delicious elements from these favorite bands of mine, while incorporating them into their very own startlingly, mind popping sound. What Enslaved has done here, is taken Rock and Metal influences to a new level, creating an album that embraces everything that is brilliant about Heavy and Progressive music. (I am not saying Enslaved actually looked to these bands for inspiration, this is just my musical and Metal interpretation and/or opinion). Enslaved has their roots in Black Metal, a musical track record that overflows with Metal bragging rights… “Vertebrae” by no means exemplifies this band as not being original. This album is as original as it gets… I cannot truly count how many Metal bands there are, that dare to experiment with music so valiantly.
Black Metal has gone through a bit of a metamorphosis over the years… so have the other Metal genres. There will always be the blue collar – true to the roots style of Black Metal, it deserves it’s rightful place in the Metal universe. Enslaved, like their counterparts Satyricon, have taken the Black Metal stylings and tweaked them, in this case, Enslaved progressively tweaked. As with anything in life, change is a natural necessity that either is accepted or rejected. Change in the musical circles of Metal can often times be equated to selling out or mellowing down, every fan of Metal has their own right to personally object or accept what they want from their music. My point I am trying to make here is, Enslaved has not deceived me or let me down with their brand of Progressive, Black Metal on “Vertebrae”. Vintage Venom and Mercyful Fate will forever and always be at my Metal reach, Enslaved “Vertebrae” is an extension of what happens when musical and Metal barriers are broken down.
In an all encompassing summary of the seven songs on “Vertebrae”, I hear the nod to the forefathers of Black Metal, with especially the lead vocals and the dark, macabre and searingly moody ambiance, coming from the musical background elements. The keyboards and organ can create Black Metal which pays homage to the original sound of this band and genre, it can also create the progressive path in which “Vertebrae” aims for as well. Herbrand Larsen is simply unreal on the keys, organ and vocals. The same can be said for each member of Enslaved… as a cohesive unit they have connected not only with each other with their Metal skills and prowess, they have also raised the bar musically, in a Metal world that is rapidly interconnecting with each others genres. I cannot resist myself by recommending highly “Vertebrae”, Enslaved has created an album that will be at the top of my Metal list for decades to come.
The members of Enslaved are: Ivar Bjornson on guitars, Grutle Kjellson on vocals & bass, Herbrand Larsen on keyboards, organ & vocals, Cato Bekkevold on drums and Ice Dale on guitars. Enslaved has given the Metal world seven brilliant new songs with “Vertebrae”, thus inspiring me to delve and journey even further into the vast genres and sub-genres of Metal music.