Black metal has been stuck in something of a rut lately, with half the bands still moping around forest glens like its 1992 and the other half doing the exact same thing, but layering synth parts on top. Enslaved remain the exception to the rule; straddling the line between black and progressive metal they have been trying to nail down for over a decade, new album E is a monumental achievement that will appeal to fans of Behemoth and Tool alike.
Enslaved, now and before, have never been against throwing up the devil horns and screaming, but on E they seem to be intentionally pushing themselves into new territory. New keyboardist Håkon Vinje makes his mark, singing some of the most beautiful harmonies Enslaved have ever written. Deep Purple-esque keyboards abound on tracks like "Axis of the World" and the guitar tappings and saxophone solo (!) in "Hiindsiight" would not feel out of place on a Genesis record. But, deep down, this is still an Enslaved album, and one of their best at that.
If there is one gripe, it's that the songs feel a tad long, most clocking near the eight-minute mark. But it's a small price to pay to hear the record that, by the sounds of it, Enslaved have been working towards their entire career. (Nuclear Blast)