Some bands start experimenting later in their careers. It’s a natural part of the creative process, however, bands like Enslaved never stopped trying new things and are always striving for a new sound. Continuing their predilection for pushing the envelope is The Sleeping Gods, a quick burst of inimitable Enslaved that bodes well for the future.
The opener, “Heimvegen,” continues the trend established on last year’s Axioma Ethica Odini, is an Opeth-esque textural dirge featuring a lengthy black metal rant. “Alu Misyrki” recalls the band’s roots in black metal, with plenty of bloodcurdling rasps from vocalist/bassist Grutle Kjellson. “Synthesis” is the thinker here, a 6-minute journey through synth pads, trance guitars, and distant vocals, a fine reminder of Enslaved’s exploratory spirit. “Nordlys” serves as a bridge back into the album, a rock instrumental perfect for cruising the fjords, before the Nordic pagan incantations of the title track bring the album to a close.
Recording partly at the band’s home studio, and partly at Solslottet Studio in Bergen, Norway, The Sleeping Gods retains just enough of that harsh black metal production to remind the listener just how far Enslaved has come. The guitars are sharp and bright, the vocals are soaked in reverb, and the snare drum is tuned as high as can be. Add some tasteful keyboards, and you’ve got a record that is true to its roots, without being repetitive and stale.
Fans of Enslaved, Opeth, and other bands that refuse to be labeled should check this one out. And stay on your toes, because whatever Enslaved cooks up next is sure to catch you off guard.