Just falling short of 2017’s metal top spot is the fourteenth album from Norway’s blackened titans Enslaved.
Despite being a progressive metal offering cut from the same cloth as Wolves in the Throne Room and even Opeth, E is a ride that succeeds far, far beyond the parameters of its generic borders. Its music owes itself not only to extreme metal, but also melodic rock, ambient, folk and even free jazz, resulting in fifty minutes of power that feel not only fluid and unhindered, but also taut and direct.
Bar the hard-hitting “The River’s Mouth”, which possesses a straight-forward structure that bridges gritty verses with Devin Townsend Project-inclined choruses, all else on E is dedicated to pushing boundaries. Only one of the six grandiose tracks drops beneath the seven-minute mark, with the five that don’t all easily creating their own distinct auras and structures.
In layman’s terms, E is, objectively, probably the best black metal album that I’ve heard since Behemoth unleashed The Satanist in 2014, which is saying a great deal considering how great a showing the subgenre had this year. Its versatility, beauty, heaviness and songwriting are second to none, resulting in an intelligent disc that balances out its sheer heaviness with well-crafted emotion and masterful song-writing.