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Enslaved - Isa CD (album) cover

ISA

Enslaved

 

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

4.12 | 170 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Dim
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Isa is Norwegian black metal outfit Enlaved's eigth album, and while I do not own any of their earlier albums, I understand this is considered a huge breakthrough in their discography, and shows a huge progression towards a more cleaner and "progressive" sound. I'll start by saying that I dont consider myself a progressive rock fan, at least not the one I was two years ago. It seems every band (especially in the symphonic and classic prog metal genres) is trying to out cliche each other making double albums with no songs under five minutes long with the constant display of technical skill, and over used, over done, and overrated lyrics. With the acception of only a few bands, I dont listen to prog rock anymore, plain and simple, but one of those bands is this one.

Enslaved started as a seminal second wave black metal band, for those of you who do not know what that means, they developed their sound from thrash and death metal bands like Venom and Bathory, and created the more stereotypical black metal sound with Emperor, Darkthrone, Immortal, and Mayhem. After this period, they quickly distinguished themselves from the rest of the groups by adding viking metal lyrics, and progressive rock elements. Then came Isa, what many consider the perfect blend of black metal and prog rock. Creating dense atmospheres with keyboards/synths, combined with tremolo guitars that harmonize to make thick texturing, while also playing with a certain virtuosic skill that raised the bar high above the otherwise simple genre of music. Every song except the opener and closer is very uptempo'd and heavy. Distorted guitars, and Grutle's troll vocals dominate the soundscapes while the drumming is absolutely furious throughout the album, while synths set a cleansing backround.

You're probably asking now, what makes this album any different than one of Opeths or Agallochs? It's the black metal. Opeth concentratees on technical skill, and loud-soft passages, Agalloch on depressing neo-folk atmospheres, but Enslaved does not deviate from their genre, and instead of making prog rock with Black metal influences, they're a black metal group incorporating prog rock influences. Every song is solid. Lunar force starts the album out powerfully, Bounded by allegiance shows off their more progressive skill with excellent clean vocal harmonies, return to yggadisis has one of the better ambient soundscape sections this side of black metal, and NeoGenesis is simply one of the most monumntal songs I've ever heard. There is no weak track, but at the same time, there is that experimental quality that was in Ruun that seems missing in this one, while Isa as an album definately flows ten fold better than Ruun, their next album definately does seem to harmonize the more calmed and collected sound better than Isa.

This album is not a masterpiece to me, neither is Ruun, and vertebrae was actually a pretty big letdown for me, nonetheless this groups is so exciting, and seems to be my breath of fresh air in this ever more blanding and cliche'd genre. I just wish they had a little more exposure on the site, cause I know there are a lot more people that would like this group if they were to actively seek them out. Anyways, Isa gets a respectable four stars.

Dim | 4/5 |

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