Album Review: Enslaved, Vertebrae

As we slowly transition into the bitter cold of winter in Minnesota, so coincides the release of the Enslaved‘s latest album. This long running group of progressive-black metal masters has been at the forefront of the genre for several years now, and Vertebrae continues their progression out of the frosts of Norway into the international spotlights. ..but don’t worry, these guys obviously haven’t forgotten the bleakness of the landscape they left behind.

Vertebrae is a nearly perfect release for Enslaved; a beautifully epic journey through a minefield of crushing, frostbitten guitar riffs, intricate song structures, and a balance of extreme violence and hopeful splendor. In addition, the soaring vocals of frontman Grutle Kjellson that lead the charge are constantly contrasted with his harsh, despairing growl, and it provides a sense of balance that even the best metal albums often lack. Dense atmospherics that complement the searing assault provide a sense of depth that even Enslaved hasn’t yet achieved on their illustrious back catalog. The whole package is an ambitious, boundary expanding experiment that still adheres to the defining aspects of what makes Enslaved so awesome. But while the tortured black metal furor is still very much at the heart Vertebrae, Enslaved has achieved a level confidence in their psychedelic experimentation that places this album a step up from its predecessors. This is an album that captures an evolutionary band at the pinnacle of modern extreme metal in their most focused, mindblowing display of power yet. Enslaved have crafted their most recent masterpiece, a release that will surely leave legions of unsuspecting victims shuddering in fear for years to come.


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