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Enslaved’s In Times: Pretty Good, If You’re Into The Whole Progressive Blackened Cosmic Viking Thing

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There’s nothing terribly sexy about Enslaved. Though the Norwegian five-piece is much loved for their classic black metal material and hugely revered for their progressive output since 2003’s Below The Lights, it is rare that someone at a party wants to crack a brew, put on some Enslaved, and get loose. Similarly, their live experience leaves something to be desired; rarely are breasts flashed or pits opened up at an Enslaved show. It’s not even their fault, really—it’s just difficult to get hot under the collar about psychedelic Viking metal.

As such, In Times isn’t for everyone all the time. Mid-paced, spacey, and often quite pretty, it is a distillation of what makes Enslaved unique, and subsequently not terribly sexy. That said, those who are willing to plug in and get lost will find this album an enthralling listen.

What makes In Times interesting is that you get different sides of the band on each song therein. Every track is over eight minutes long, and thus has room to explore both Enslaved’s darker and more psychedelic moments. “Thurisaz Dreaming” is grim and throttling, while “Building With Fire” leans towards the more recent Pink Floydian tendencies of recent albums. The beginning to “One Thousand Days of Rain” has hints of Radiohead to it, but then it erupts into galloping occult metal track. “Nauthir Bleeding” walks the line between the two well, and the eleven-minute “In Times” sprawling and grandiose both as black and progressive metal. But by closer “Daylight,” things have begun to blur together a little into a single mid-paced mix of clean and guttural vocals.

Without a doubt, In Times is a solid release, even when compared to the band’s back catalog. But one can only get so excited about that; for a metal band, Enslaved are strangely quiet, and their music benefits from a private listening experience, on headphones or in the car on a highway at night. But though it’s not a casual listen and might not get your motor running, In Times has enough atmosphere and talent to make it a worthwhile spin at just the right moment.

Enslaved’s In Times comes out March 10 on Nuclear Blast. You can stream the entire album here and pre-order it here.

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