Review: Enslaved – The Sleeping Gods

Enslaved

The Sleeping Gods (EP)
Scion A/V

This EP was released at short notice last month as a free download, on Scion A/V, a record label division of the Scion brand of vehicles produced by Toyota for North America. Quite how Scion got into the music industry is beyond me – their brand doesn’t mean a great deal to us British or anyone else outside of that region. But despite their awkward fit, Scion A/V has been a force for metal, providing the Scion Rock Fest in America which has proved successful, and last year they put out the impressive ‘Crusher’ EP by Magrudergrind.
This brings us nicely on to Enslaved’s ‘The Sleeping Gods’, which sees Bergen’s metal masters continuing down the experimental progressive path, less than a year after releasing the magnificent ‘Axioma Ethica Odini’. The first two tracks are pretty much what you’d expect from Enslaved these days. It begins with ‘Heimvegen’, a melodic progressive number, alternating between clean and aggressive vocals, psychedelic melodies and thunderous growls. Some ominous voices close the track, which leads nicely into ‘Alu Misyrki’, the EP’s heaviest track, a real thrash-punk snarler which unexpected swoops near sludge territory just to slow things down a little, before speeding back up into that amazing riff. They throw in another slow section and a bloody great solo too for good measure. Songs like this are what the metal claw is for.
This is followed by the ambient ‘Synthesis’, which serves as a somewhat lengthy instrumental interlude. There’s some haunting voices and ambience in the mix but it feels very out of place with what came before it. Things change up again with another instrumental, ‘Nordlys’, which dabbles in post-punk with a riff not too dissimilar to Joy Division, heavies up a little with a thunderous middle section and then settles back down to fade; and then the EP morphs again with the title track, an excellent folk-laden song, mesmerizing in nature, which again combines several instruments to build up to a climactic finish. Yep, that’s it. Done.
It does feel a little thrown together but the overall quality of the tracks is such that you can’t really complain. Enslaved have again shown why they’re among the black metal elite and why they stand out so.
Peter Clegg
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