Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Enslaved: RIITIIR (2012)

The Sleeping Gods

Enslaved need no introduction.

Let’s get this out of the way up front: RIITIIR is BOORIING. By any standard you can use to judge a band like Enslaved, anyway. The Norwegian legends have been on a winning streak for so long that it’s easy to think they can do no wrong. Judging by some of the reviews I read before I decided to buy RIITIIR (I have yet to receive any promos from Nuclear Blast), many journalists must have seen fit to write based on that assumption, without really listening to it. I seriously doubt the band got lazy; their work ethic is as legendary as their discography. It’s more likely that after years of effusive, universal praise, they started to buy into their own legend.

For the first few seconds of the record, it sounds like they went Krallice, but that’s just a feint. Instead, they’ve taken their sound one more incremental step away from black metal and further into their signature prog style. The clean vocals have overtaken the growling, the balladic elements have overtaken the aggressiveness. In fact, there’s barely a hint of any blood or fury until track three, nearly eighteen minutes in.

This wouldn’t necessarily be bad. After all, the band has done that kind of thing well enough in the past. So, what’s the real problem? The music just simply isn’t that great, and none of the songs deserve to be as long as they are (in most cases, eight minutes or so). Some of the melodies are memorable, but they’re not terribly exciting. Nowhere is there anything as brilliantly catchy as “Ethica Odini” or “Clouds.” It’s really as simple as that. They seem to believe in their own legend now, throwing quality control and economic songwriting out the window.

Is it a terrible album? No, not really. If this were the sole release of some completely unknown band, it would be the kind of album that would slowly earn a sizeable cult following, until everyone has an illegal copy and legit ones go for $80 on eBay; people with better taste would scratch their heads and wonder why people love it so much, because it’s just OK.

The Verdict: 3 out of 5 stars



  1. totally agree, although I've felt this way about their last couple as well.

  2. I pretty much felt like this too. I think my take was just slightly more positive, but my basic reaction was about the same.