By Dr. Abner Mality

Words fail me when trying to describe what Enslaved does. Being the blow-hard that I am, it is phenomenally hard to strike me speechless. But these guys manage to do it. Their last effort "Axioma Ethica Odini" managed to snag my album of the year award. Now comes "Riitiir" and again I expect this to be in the running for 2012.

There seems to be literally nothing Enslaved can't do. If they have a musical idea, they use it, no matter no difficult or outlandish it may seem. And they make that idea sound natural and organic, like breathing. I call this band true progressive rock. That would send most prog fans into a tailspin considering Enslaved is still extreme metal, but the smarter ones will know where I'm coming from. "Riitiir" is coming from a more obscure place than the "in your face" "Axioma..." but the good news is, the heaviness and power of that disc is retained. They didn't swing back to the subdued, less visceral style of "Vertebrae", that's for sure. "Thoughts Like Hammers" opens the album with a bludgeoning wall of raging noise...the most cathartic explosion ever from the band. But as is typical, that's just the beginning, as the track swings through a wide variety of moods and atmospheres. We get a lot of those relaxing multi-tracked clean vocals on "Riitiir"...but they often pop up during some of the stormiest parts of the disc. There are still plenty of Grutle's rasping croaks...but those may not necessarily appear during the heavy sections, either. You are kept on your toes throughout the length of "Riitiir", which is truly an unpredictable, progressive, yet coherent ride.

"Thoughts Like Hammers" is hugely impressive, but "Roots of the Mountain" and "Storm of Memories" also show the band at their energetic best. "Materal" is a true prog metal monster, a virtual album in itself, a clinic in how to do a HUGE metal song. Shit, I could blow 500 more words on this record and still find new things to say. That's getting to be a habit with these new Enslaved records.

Just go out and buy the damn thing, everybody's going to be talking about it anyway. The legacy of this band has never been more vibrant.