Released: 2012, Nuclear Blast
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team
Before I even start this review I have to say, once in a while there comes a few albums in a few years that are an absolute joy to listen to from start to finish, and this my friends is one of them!
Right from the start of the album with the track "Thoughts Like Hammers" the album kicks off with an absolute wall of sound that then goes straight into an awesome slow low bassy groove to kick off the song. You can really hear the barrage that having 3 guitarists and a bass player brings to the music on this track and the production alone on this album is just incredible... ...it's like standing with your head underneath the freezing waterfall of an ice encrusted mountain whilst Vikings serenade you with war songs from one side and a frost demon screams into your face from the other!
In all seriousness though, the sound of this album is just amazing, even at a low volume it still sounds brilliant and at a high volume like I’ve got it on my 5.1 system at the moment it sounds like the epic power of Thor and Odin is barraging into your living room! Both the melodic vocals and the more Black Metal style vocals are recorded so nice and crisply as well as all the other elements of the band that you’d think they were in the fucking room with you! It’s just an incredible wall and barrage of sounds that have been created on this album.
Towards the middle section of Thoughts Like Hammers there is a really beautiful mellow guitar section which then rips into a short guitar solo and another heavy section with Black Metal vocals and classic Hammond Organ in the background before going back to the mellow section again and flowing the track into its ever exploring segments and parts. The song then ends with a mixture of the intro and outro riffs with is a heavy bass laden riff for the intro and a more softer melancholic doomy style riff for the outro and mixing the aggressive elements of the harsh vocals with the more melancholic elements of the melodic vocals to create something really beautiful to listen to and I would absolutely love to hear this song performed live!
The next track is Death in the Eyes of Dawn which has a slow Opeth type feel to it with string melodies accompanying the guitars and deep guttural Death Metal vocals to start the track off before going into a slowly progressing groove which mixes in the melodic vocal lines to give the track its slow and sinister feel. The chorus then sweeps over with a catchy and powerful vocal melody and a few harsh vocal lines at the end of it just to add a bit of extra Nordic power as well!
Next track is Veilburner which kicks in with a riff that should get any listener headbanging and raising the horns before going into fast soaring melodic vocal sections and getting to the chorus which again sums up the sheer epic sound of this album completely. This is the kind of chorus you’d expect to hear when seeing a 50 foot ice giant standing on top of a mountain with lighting striking its giant hammer or something, it’s just fucking epic!
And if standing on top of the mountain with an ice giant wasn’t epic enough, the next track’s title is Roots of the Mountain which bursts through the speakers with fast snare led thrash style pounding drumming and sinister string lines and the usual trebly Black Metal aggressive guitar playing before slowing down to a more slower pace to bring in the soaring melodic vocals as well (and even having a short pause for some trippy flutes as well, but they are quickly extinguished by a Death Metal scream leading into more heaviness and double bass drumming). The vocal harmonies on this track wouldn’t sound out of place in a Viking bar filled with Ale, Mead and Wenches! Excellent stuff!
The title track RIITIIR seems strangely enough to be probably the most unexciting track on the album, which is not to say that it is a bad song by any standards, it’s just that the whole album contains a real wealth of really awesome music and of course you’re always going to get 1 or 2 songs that don’t stand out as much as the others. For me the biggest stand out tracks are the first & second tracks Thoughts Like Hammers and Death in the Eyes of Dawn as well as Materal which starts off with a really cool eerie sound before the drums kick in with accented snare hits and a slow sludgy/doom style riff takes hold before literally exploding into an epic a chorus that sounds like a fucking wall of flames hitting your ears! This has all the power of the Norse gods on this track and then some! And the final track Forsaken really does bring an epic conclusion to this amazing journey of an album!
As I said at the beginning this album has been an absolute joy to sit and listen to and I’m on my 3rd run through now, I hope that Enslaved come and perform these songs live in the UK soon as I was gutted that I missed them the last time around. This is one of those few albums that come around once in a blue moon and really knock you sideways and think “wow!” and could very well be one of the defining moments for Enslaved, and for a band that has come such a long way through their career with the varying styles along the way then that really is saying something and a true achievement for metal!
I have to give this album a 5 out of 5 rating, there’s no two ways about it. If you can listen to this album all the way through and not find at least ONE thing to absolutely love about it then may the Hammer of Thor penetrate you in a way that you really will not enjoy…
I must ride off now, in search of more Ice Giants!!
Review by Joffie Lovett