Axioma Ethica Odini
01. Ethica Odini
04. The Beacon
08. Night Sight
[Nuclear Blast | 09/28/10]
Black metal is definitely not my strongest point. While I do journey into the frostbitten aural forests from time to time, I tend to keep away from that genre (although I am getting better!). Enslaved seemed like an interesting concept (and a safe bet) to me, combining black and progressive metal styles to create something unique and outstanding in the genre.
Axioma Ethica Odini is full of overt black metal tones, with dark riffs and tremolo picking are tucked between fast paced drumming and sinister growls. Enslaved are far from your homogenous paint-by-numbers black metal band, though. Also included in the mix are the post-black melodic minor chords and clean ambient sections with very little in the way of blast beats. Melody is not lost on Enslaved, and they aren’t afraid to slow things down for the sake of mood and atmosphere, as evidenced in the album’s interlude, “Axioma” and the very doomy, “Giants”. However, what makes Enslaved stand out from most, to me, are the memorable cleanly sung choruses and progressive approach to songwriting and composition.
Clean singing in my black metal? It’s more possible than you think, and it works well despite Enslaved’s vocal work being a mixed bag. The clean singing is excellent, and in the rare occasion of a layering of harmonies, things get pretty amazing. No complaints in that department at all; the sung vocals are definitely classy. The growls, however, don’t sit so well with me. I suppose they work well in the context and aesthetics of their blackened roots and influences, but I dislike them. To me, they sound as if vocalist Grutle Kjellson has a throat full of phlegm. You get used to it though, and once you’ve been listening for a while, this is practically a non-issue.
Axioma Ethica Odini is one of those albums that take a while to really sing your teeth into, which is why it took me so long to come up with a review for it (I’ve had it weeks before it was released). That’s not to say the album is by any means bad, it’s just a bit more difficult than your average album to pick apart. Established Enslaved fans will absolutely love Axioma Ethica Odini from the get-go. For the rest of us, in what I like to call “Slowpeth Syndrome,” it might just take some effort to put prolonged attention into the music. I must say, though, that it is definitely worth it if you’re into black and progressive metal.