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Album Review

Vertebrae offers further proof that Enslaved have found their groove as a post-black metal proposition: content to carry on testing the boundaries of their relatively exclusive and self-ordained domain, where progressive and psychedelic influences find unlikely sympathy with the extreme musical foundations of yesteryear (which, to the group's immense credit, have not been summarily abandoned). However, at first it seems that Vertebrae will be something of a stylistic holding pattern in relation to acclaimed predecessors Ruun and Isa (even retaining the same exact lineup, for a change), before eventually revealing itself, over prolonged exposure, to indulge in just as much experimentation. In broad terms, this means that the recurring dynamic contrasts between sheer violence and exquisite splendor still account for most of the thrills delivered by these multifaceted and frequently unpredictable songs. But, more specifically, those experiments yield numerous creative breakthroughs, such as the flashes of Pink Floyd worship on "Ground," the jazz-inflected solos found in "Reflection," and the art rock minimalism (à la Tool) heard on "Center," to name but a few. Meanwhile, Vertebrae probably contains an even higher percentage of — and greater comfort with — clean vocals on the part of frontman Grutle Kjellson, whose voice is often layered to dense harmonies with those of his bandmates, to wonderful effect. Moreover, Kjellson's lyrical collaborations with the group's guitarist and primary songwriter, Ivar Bjørnson, frequently achieve unprecedented heights of inspiration and clarity on tracks like "Clouds," "Reflection" (again), and the surprisingly optimistic "New Dawn," where existential philosophy and blood-drenched mythology commingle as effortlessly as the aforementioned musical elements (i.e., Viking metal purists will not feel shortchanged). And for all of these reasons, Enslaved continue to represent the absolute evolutionary cutting edge of extreme metal, delivering in Vertebrae yet another spectacle of imagination and quality control, matched only by Sweden's equally consistent Opeth.

Customer Reviews

Another beautiful masterpiece

Enslaved have done it again. This is just another progression for them and it is absolutely amzing. The whole albumis breath-taking, and mesmerizing. These guys still create some of the best musical landscapes out there. Turn the lights down low, get comfortable and prepare for an incredible journey. F*CKING AWESOME PROGRESSIVE-BM


I am thoroughly impressed with the musical direction Enslaved has gone towards. They are one of the best progressive metal bands in my opinion. They have a perfect blend of music, singing, and screaming. If you are a fan of Isa or RUUN, then Vertabrae is a must-purchase. The emotion is brilliant, and the hard hits and audible talent have not been sacrificed despite. I definitely recommend this album. Buy it, close your eyes, curl up into the fetal position and listen. You won't be disappointed.

Black Floyd

The editorial is right, Enslaved is the Pink Floyd of Black Metal. This has got to be their best release yet in terms of this brand of Progressive/Psychedelic Black Metal. The music is dark and heavy, yet strangely soothing, it can certainly hypnotize you in to a deep sleep. Every Enslaved release has been absolutely perfect. My recommedation is this: Buy this release, Buy you a twelve pack of lager, buy you a lawn chair, and look up into the endless and infinite sky. Awesome Experience!


Formed: 1991 in Bergen, Norway

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Norwegian black metal band Enslaved were formed in 1991 by guitarist/keyboardist Ivar Bjørnson and bassist Grutle Kjellson; a demo titled Yggdrstll followed a year later. The group's official albums during the '90s included 1994's Frost, 1997's Eld, and 1999's Blodhemn. In fall 2000, the band issued Mardraum, and continued over the following decades with the full-lengths Monumension (2001), Below the Lights (2003), Isa (2004), Ruun (2006), Vertebrae (2008), Axioma Ethica Odini (2010), and RIITIIR...
Full Bio
Vertebrae, Enslaved
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