Album of the Year 2017 – Number 18

Welcome to day 13 of my ‘Album of the Year 2017 top 30 countdown’.

Today’s entrant is going to be a familiar name to many but given the consistent quality of their output, I just couldn’t leave them out of the top 30.

In keeping with previous posts in this series, you’ll find below a few quotes from my full review as well as a link to it, not to mention an embedded track that differs from the review as well as a few thoughts and justification as to why this record deserves its place in this end-of-year list. It would have been easy to just write a list or re-hash my previous work. But long-term readers of my site will know that I can’t do that – I must give added value to every post I publish.

You’ll probably be pleased to know that I’m not going to get bogged down in unnecessary waffle today within my introduction. And so, without further ado, allow me to reveal who’s next in this labour of love I refer to as my ‘Album of the Year 2017 Top 30 countdown’

Number 18

Enslaved-E_4000px

Enslaved
E
Nuclear Blast

“It almost goes without saying but it’s worth mentioning that ‘E’ is unlikely to make an instant impact with listeners. Some parts will quickly grab your attention, but the vast majority of the material will require concentration and a certain amount of familiarisation in order to extract everything of value out of it. Over the course of the last two or three albums, maybe even longer, Enslaved have been headed inexorably towards a more progressive incarnation, as they continue to bravely experiment with their personal musical vision.

As a result, the grandiose nature of ‘E’ means that the Norwegians have taken another bold journey into the unknown, whilst managing to keep one hand on the tiller of familiarity. As challenging as it is, there’s a sense that you know exactly who this is as it is playing. That, in itself, is an extremely neat trick to pull off, further demonstrating the craftsmanship and skill of Enslaved.

Enslaved are one of those bands that can literally do no wrong. However they decide to evolve their sound, their music always remains of the very highest order. They may have lost a few fans along the way but I’m sure they have gathered many more over the years. And deservedly so, because ‘E’ further cements Enslaved’s credentials as one of the most accomplished, exciting and brave extreme metal bands in the world today.”

Read the full review here.

Enslaved2017b

Enslaved are one of those bands that always create fantastic music. I always seem to like their output hugely, even if it never comes easy. I always have to work hard for my rewards and ‘E’ is no different at all. And I’m glad this is the case, because fantastic music shouldn’t always come easy; it should challenge, confound and push the boundaries in search of originality and the realisation of a unique vision by those concerned.

With ‘Storm Son’, I remain of the firm opinion that this is one of the Norwegian veterans’ greatest single compositions of their lengthy and impressive career. And, bearing in mind how talented and accomplished Enslaved clearly are, this should be a statement that resonates. But the quality doesn’t end there, the result being an album that has seeped under my skin and which frequently finds its way onto my playlists.

As I mention in my review, I like the fact that Enslaved have the ability to try out new things yet remain recognisable in the process. ‘E’ is an intense listen, full of aural highs and lows but more than that, it is a very varied listen. From quiet passages of subdued introspection, to all-out walls of noise, from blasts of uncompromising black metal to 70s-inspired melodies, ‘E’ never sits still, always ready and able to deliver a curveball or two. And yet, despite this, the record has a disarmingly smooth flow, where nothing feel out of place, clunky or contrived. The textures, the soundscapes and the atmospheres are myriad whilst being simultaneously both bold and subtle.

Enslaved are a hugely intelligent band and they create the music to match. But equally importantly for me, the quintet don’t forget that their music has to be entertaining and draw listeners in for repeated listens. As such, there is a surprisingly strong melodic undercurrent and general accessibility to be heard within the six tracks that are, at the end of the day, lengthy extreme metal compositions.

‘E’ deserves its place in my list for the umpteenth time because, quite simply, it is another fantastic addition to an already magnificent back catalogue. On this evidence, there’s no concern that Enslaved are simply treading water or resting on their laurels; if anything, they are hungrier and more inspired than ever.

If you missed either of my 2017 ‘honourable mentions’ posts, here they are should you be interested:

Album of the Year 2017 – honourable mentions Part 1
Album of the Year 2017 – honourable mentions Part 2

Previous posts in my 2017 Top 30 countdown:

Album of the Year 2017 – Number 19
Album of the Year 2017 – Number 20
Album of the Year 2017 – Number 21
Album of the Year 2017 – Number 22
Album of the Year 2017 – Number 23
Album of the Year 2017 – Number 24
Album of the Year 2017 – Number 25
Album of the Year 2017 – Number 26
Album of the Year 2017 – Number 27
Album of the Year 2017 – Number 28
Album of the Year 2017 – Number 29
Album of the Year 2017 – Number 30

And from previous years:

Album of the Year 2016
Album of the Year 2015
Album of the Year 2014
Album of the Year 2013
Album of the Year 2012

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