by Gerry Mak in New Music on Tuesday 2 September 2008

Pre-eminent Norwegian Viking metal band Enslaved has evolved over the years from a straight-forward black metal band into a moody, post-rock outfit without completely abandoning their roots. Their last few albums have seen a shift towards English lyrics, sweeping and majestic instrumentals, and diverse influences — everything from Pink Floyd and ’70s prog and psych rock to ’80s goth and shoegaze pop. Their most recent effort, Vertebrae, is their most contemplative and mellow to date, utilizing electronic elements, mid-tempo rhythms, enchanting harmonized vocals, and spaced out guitar parts than ever before. This is not to say that they have lost their edge — frontman Grutle Kjellson’s gravelly screech is as distinctive and harsh as ever, providing a textural contrast from the warm glow of the music. There are still some more orthodox metal moments on the record, such as on “New Age,” but they quickly veer back into the band’s newer sound.

Listen to the Enslaved song, The Dead Stare.