Enslaved - Isa
Tabu Recordings
Progressive Extreme Metal
10 songs (51:01)
Release year: 2004
Enslaved, Tabu Recordings
Reviewed by Daniel

Enslaved’s previous album, Below the Lights, was one of my favorite releases of 2003. Enslaved created an incredibly solid and original album, and since then I’ve been expecting their next move; finally it’s here and I receive it with open arms. So, is it as good as the previous one? Read on, and you’ll find out. (Don’t you love the suspense?)

Isa could be quickly described as Below the Lights part two. No incredible evolution since then; the evolution was made with Below the Lights, and in Isa they continue playing in the same vein as in it. For those who didn’t get a chance to listen to Enslaved’s previous effort, imagine Opeth meets Black Metal; sounds great doesn’t it? Well it is. When Alex compared Enslaved to Opeth in the Below the Lights review I was thrilled to hear it, I did, and I couldn’t agree more. Enslaved’s songs have the same type of song structures that Opeth’s but with different resources; Enslaved has a Black Metal backbone enhanced and adorned with other Extreme Metal techniques, acoustic guitars, melancholic passages, grim and clean vocals, and tempo changes. Opeth does the same but it’s backbone and main resources are drawn from Death Metal.

The album is pretty solid and well structured; Ivar Bjørnson’s abilities as a composer shine, as progression throughout the songs is carried flawlessly and creatively, and the guys in Enslaved show their excellent musicianship, although I must say, that even tough Dirge Rep’s drum performance is tight, it was much better in Below the Lights. Anyway, you can really tell that Enslaved are quite comfortable with their new style. It’s also important to mention that the production is excellent, giving all the instruments space to breathe; this way you can listen to all the details and arrangements in the album, thus making the album even more enjoyable.

At first I though it was a kind of a weak release but with each listen, it grew on me more and more, so if you feel a bit disappointed at first, don’t give up; I guarantee you’ll like it more with each listen.

So returning to the question at the beginning of the review; is it as good as the previous one? Almost as good, I’d say. If it wasn’t for some songs in the middle of the album like, Bounded by Allegiance and Violet Dawning, that are weak compared to the rest of the album, and that make it loose momentum, it could have matched Below the Lights. Anyway it’s still a great release, and it confirms that Enslaved still have enough creativity and energy to keep it real for a long time.

In 1994 Enslaved released two landmarks in the world of Black / Viking Metal (Vikingligr Veldi and Frost); a decade later Enslaved are still releasing landmarks, only this time in Progressive Extreme Metal; are these guys great or what?

Note: The album has already been released in Norway. It will be released in November 8th in Europe, and till February 5th, 2005 in the USA.

Killing Songs :
Lunar Force, Isa, Ascension, Return to Yggdrasil and Reogenesis.
Daniel quoted 86 / 100
Other albums by Enslaved that we have reviewed:
Enslaved - In Times reviewed by Goat and quoted 93 / 100
Enslaved - RIITIIR reviewed by Thomas and quoted 92 / 100
Enslaved - Axioma Ethica Odini reviewed by Goat and quoted 92 / 100
Enslaved - Eld reviewed by Goat and quoted CLASSIC
Enslaved - Frost reviewed by Goat and quoted CLASSIC
To see all 11 reviews click here
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