If, for some metalheads, Opeth have pushed too far into progressive territory, the venerable Enslaved are reassuring. In their 25th year, the Norwegian black progressive metallers maintain their balance between ambition and evil riffs. This new album of rarities from 2010-11 restates Enslaved’s claim to be keepers of the extreme metal faith.
Indeed, the tracks on this anniversary offering are an introduction to the band’s evolution. Disintegrator and Striker – full of grim moodiness and blizzard guitars – gesture towards the classic black metal sound, whereas Synthesis and Nordlys are remninscent of the Floydian sounds of 2008’s Vertebrae. Opener Heimvegen, by contrast, acts as a summary of Enslaved’s most realised sound, mixing growls and clean vocals, grim riffs and flashes of unexpected subtlety in the use of off-beat rhythms.
In one sense, The Sleeping Gods doesn’t offer anything especially new. Lyrically it mines classic ‘Viking metal’ territory, drawing on Norse myth. Equally, it inevitably lacks the cohesiveness of a full offering such as 2010’s Axioma Ethica Odina. However, as a summary of 25 years of hard work and commitment, The Sleeping Gods is a fitting testimony.