After nearly 20 years and 11 albums, Norwegian black metallers Enslaved still sound like a band in the middle of their prime. Their latest, Axioma Ethica Odini, is a slab of controlled intensity that makes the efforts of their contemporaries from the early days of Norway’s black metal scene seem positively childish by comparison. The album’s opener, “Ethica Odini” starts with a blisteringly cold riff punctuated by bassist/ screamer Grutle Kjellson’s demonic shrieks, followed by a frenetic prog breakdown and Herbrand Larsen’s clean vocals. The song bounces between these two strange bedfellows before ending with a melodic guitar solo a la Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour.
The whole effect is astounding and perfectly encapsulates the Enslaved sound. Enslaved shows it isn’t restrained by tired conventions or pandering to tradition. Axioma Ethica Odini is an exquisite statement of extreme metal by a band that deserves far more attention than they’ve managed to attract up to now.