"some music was meant to stay underground..."

Enslaved - "RIITIIR" (CD)

Enslaved - "RIITIIR" CD cover image

"RIITIIR" track listing:

1. Thoughts Like Hammers (9:30)
2. Death in the Eyes of Dawn (8:17)
3. Veilburner (6:46)
4. Roots of the Mountain (9:17)
5. Riitiir (5:26)
6. Materal (7:48)
7. Storm of Memories (8:58)
8. Forsaken (11:15)

Reviewed by on September 16, 2012

"'RIITTIIR' is more progressive and experimental than the previous release, and much of it will be very pleasing to anyone who thought Opeth’s 'Heritage' was a letdown, as it keeps the metal heavy without losing the softer stuff."

Enslaved’s previous release “Axioma Ethica Odini” is a tough act to follow, as that album was among the top black metal offerings in 2010, but the Norwegian act has created an admirable follow-up with the oddly-titled “RIITIIR.” Heading even further into prog and using even more clean singing than before, the hour’s worth of music on the album hits the sweet spot where insane black metal meshes with compelling melodies.

The intro to opening assault “Thoughts Like Hammers” is a serious red herring, bringing out a cacophony of chaotic sounds mixed together in a way reminiscent of Deathspell Omega. That brutal crashing wave passes by fairly quickly however, and Enslaved returns to a sound more along the lines of what was heard throughout the last album, with the exception that the growls are more croaky this time around. The song’s continuous changes from abrasive screams to ‘70s rock to melodic metal are a good indicator of what’s going to happen throughout the rest of the disc.

“RIITIIR” is more progressive and experimental than the previous release, and much of it will be very pleasing to anyone who thought Opeth’s “Heritage” was a letdown, as it keeps the metal heavy without losing the softer stuff. There are several different styles mixed together and swapped out on any given song, but the core sound doesn’t get lost in all the changes, as there is a solid framework that holds everything together and keeps it all connected.

The changing musical landscape isn’t the only thing that refuses to stick to one style, as the vocals are also varied across the track listing. There are growls and grunts galore, but also plenty of clean singing, backing shouts, and deep spoken word segments. This melting pot creates some interesting atmospheres on individual tracks, like “Death in the Eyes of Dawn,” which nearly reaches a ‘90s grunge feel, or the gothic overtones of “Forsaken.”

It probably shouldn’t come as any big surprise that “RIITIIR” is another knockout release from a band that consistently pushes the envelope and moves its sound forward. With a strong balance between extreme metal and clean prog melodies, Enslaved’s latest album is at the forefront of progressive black metal and a must-hear for fans of Opeth, Borknagar, or any music that combines opposing styles.

Highs: Enslaved works the prog rock aspect expertly, without losing the abrasive black metal aspects at all.

Lows: A few segments could use a faster pace, especially with the extended song lengths.

Bottom line: Enslaved again works prog rock melodies and clean singing into harsh black metal for a stunning result.

Rated 4.0 out of 5 skulls
4.0 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)