Enslaved Ruun

Reviewing an Enslaved album in a concise, readable fashion is never an easy task — these virtually unclassifiable Norwegians have managed to retain a distinctive sound while constantly challenging their listeners and their own creative and technical abilities. While 2004’s Isa saw the group taking an unexpected step backwards, resorting far too often to throwback riffs from their early Viking black metal days, Ruun expertly bridges the barrier between the not entirely successful Isa and its stunning predecessor Below the Lights (still their strongest release to date). While the more direct, empowered jaunt of the last effort is still present, it is effectively used to buffer the more fragile, progressive sections, which make a triumphant return to the forefront of the group’s songwriting. Ruun possesses a certain consistency and flow that has never quite graced their previous works — the transitions between songs are near seamless, and while the instrumentation seems slightly less busy, the overall listening experience benefits as a result. Another high point in a career bordering on legendary. (Candlelight)