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Enslaved - Axioma Ethica Odini CD (album) cover




Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

4.03 | 193 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Since their inception almost twenty years ago in Sveio, Norway, Enslaved has always been a force to be reckoned with in the black metal scene. With their eleventh studio album, Axioma Ethica Odini, they've once again proven to be at the top of their game. Seamlessly mixing crushing black metal and mellow seventies progressive rock, Enslaved has pulled off this formula with a feeling of consistency that few bands can emulate. This album will ruthlessly torture you with evil atmospheres and fast riffs, only to be at your side and heal you with a beautiful folk passage or clean vocal harmonies. Axioma Ethica Odini toys with your emotions, but manages to do so in an interesting and original way. Yes, this is a diverse and challenging listen that will take a few spins to wrap your head around - but it's worth every single one. If you like Enslaved, progressive metal, or black metal in general, Axioma Ethica Odini is an album that should rank high on your 2010 album list. This is a gem that every extreme metal fan should check out sooner rather than later.

The music here is a mix of black metal (on the more symphonic side), seventies progressive rock, and occasional death metal leanings in the vein of Opeth. Just in the powerful opening track ("Ethica Odini") alone, you can here this sound in its fullest form. This album is filled with sections that grab you at first listen, but it will take a few more spins to fully appreciate everything that Axioma Ethica Odini has to offer. A song like "The Beacon" (which I initially didn't like very much), now haunts me with its mystical chorus and supersonic black metal riffs. Though the music here is keyboard-laden, there are none of those cheesy keyboard tones that make you feel like you're listening to a power metal album about killing dragons and saving princesses. Expect organ, mellotron, orchestral tones, and the occasional synth like in the interlude track "Axioma". One of the biggest assets to Enslaved's music is their terrific musicianship, and that shines ever so brightly on Axioma Ethica Odini. The drumming from Cato Bekkevold has always been a highlight for me - I adore his playing style, and his chops are undeniable as well. The clean vocals from Herbrand Larsen are beautiful and melancholic, whereas the snarls from Grutle Kjellson are that of a possessed demon. Whether you like that or not is up to you, but I can conclude that the vocal department of Enslaved is jaw-dropping and their variation is noteworthy.

The production is terrific. Whereas most black metal sounds raw and harsh, Axioma Ethica Odini has a warm sound, often comparable to a seventies prog rock or heavy metal album. It seems that Enslaved has taken a hint from recent Opeth releases, notably Watershed and Ghost Reveries in terms of production. Although this extra coating of polish may turn off black metal purists, I think it fits the music perfectly - I wouldn't have it any other way.

Axioma Ethica Odini is a terrific album by Enslaved, and it proves what an unstoppable force these guys are. If this isn't "extreme prog metal album of the year 2010", it's awfully close. I have a feeling that we will be looking back on Axioma Ethica Odini as a defining progressive black metal album a few decades in the future. Although I was tempted to hand out 5 shiny ones, I'll go with a big 4.5 star rating for now. If you've been living under a rock and still haven't checked these guys out, I highly recommend jumping aboard now. Essential!

J-Man | 4/5 |


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