Enslaved: Axioma Ethica Odini

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Enslaved: Axioma Ethica Odini
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Enslaved: Axioma Ethica Odini
Progressive Black Metal, Viking Metal
Nuclear Blast Records
September 28th, 2010
Release length: 58:27
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In the Metal world, there are just some bands that have put out so many exceptional albums that the meer mention of their name is enough to spark joy and jovial conversations, uniting all within earshot distance, without any sort of argument, a rare scene for us all today. This is what happens at the drop of the name Enslaved, with exception to the band’s previous effort Vertebrae, , a highly influential band that pushed the Viking Metal scene forward since their first two full-lengths that dropped in 1994, thanks primarily to their exceptional Black Metal compositions that helped set a very proper tone for the band and their lyrical content. At the time of the release of this album, the band’s eleventh full-length effort, Axioma Ethica Odini, the band pushes toward their twentieth anniversary as a group, having formed back in 1991. In that time, the band has issued one fantastic full-length after another, and while Axioma Ethica Odini is a heavy album, it falls short like the aforementioned Vertebrae.

In traditional Enslaved fashion, the music of Axioma Ethica Odini sets up the perfect atmosphere to the album, which seems to be something that can often change on the band’s recordings. While this release has a strong Black Metal input, the main focus appears to be placed at the Viking Metal style, but in a manner that causes many of these songs to have a more glorius feel when compared to some of the darker recordings that this group has issued in the past. The band also manages to take this atmosphere, and combines it with periodic moments that build up the music to what would be considered an epic scale, though most of the time this building occurs for the sake of the chorus, which, more times then not, happens to be composed of clean singing. Sadly, this does start to lead to a somewhat pattern-based release, which is unfortunate, especially since it just starts right off the bat with “Ethica Odini”, an impressive, hard hitting Viking Metal song with some nice Black Metal immersion and standard rhaspy wailing vocal approach, then into “Raidho”, which is a solid track that seems to bring in some emphasis on more Black Metal concepts into the guitars. This track also features more of the epic-musical builds to the chorus, which sounds great against the somber singing that clearly has a little distortion added to it, making it sound more innocent, yet haunting.

While the music for Axioma Ethica Odini is a fantastic blend of Black and Viking Metal in the same manner that many have come to expect from the group, it does seem to suffer from a few faults. While the pattern concept does necessarily hit every track, leaving it something that will be picked up on, but in no way really hurts the release, the album also doesn’t really have much of an atmosphere going for many of it’s tracks at times. “Axiome”, a two minute and twenty second instrumental interlude, suffers this fate as well. Though the song clearly was meant to create some kind of atmosphere for the following track, “Giants”, it simply doesn’t, and isn’t done well enough that it might keep the listener’s attention after the first spin. “Giants”, however, has a nice, crushing feeling to the music that may not seem like anything that great at first, but builds up through the song, starting from a slow, pounding slave-drum sound, getting darker and darker until it progresses nicely to that glorious sound from earlier tracks, another sun chorus with screaming added, but kind of a self-empowering-type of feeling before dropping into a nice Progressive atmosphere with keyboards meant to make the track haunting, doing so nicely, and acting as a nice mediator between the two atmospheric extremes of the song.

The lack of atmosphere to some of the tracks on this release can be pointed at the simple fact that some of the material sounds way too clear. Axioma Ethica Odini is a well produced album that has a great sound quality to it, but unfortunately that seems to take away some of the bite of the music, but manages to nicely enhance some of the more Progressive elements then anything else. “Singular” is proof of this, as the song has some great chords that, normally, would be heavy and distorted enough to whip any Metal fan into a frenzy, but what stands out more would be the straight forward Progressive moment that hits about one-third into the song. The guitars wind up sounding too clear and lack any real heaviness to them, and the rhaspy vocals utilized also seem to lack that extra bite due to how clean they sound in the recording itself. Of course, the drums sound nice on the recording, and when the song goes headfirst into some faster paced material that sounds chaotic thanks to the drumming, but also a little inspiring due to the lighter sections and clean singing incorporated. Sadly, this is exactly how the rest of the album is impacted, and it leaves something to be desired on many tracks, including “Waruun” and “Axioma”, though neither of these songs, as well as the others that aren’t as hindered by this, are nowhere near a collective cluster of sounds as “Singular” becomes the deeper into the song you get.

Of all the tracks on the album, however, it’s “Night Sight” that is the most puzzling. This roughly seven and a half minute song offers the most promise, but it’s also one of the most frustrating tracks on the release simply due to it’s introduction. Looking back at the material of this album, the Progressive elements feel a little lacking in texture, coming off more as a standard approach, and not really suiting some of the material at all. However, “Night Sight” has a sort of Jazz meets Progressive acoustic interlude that sounds amateurish and tacked on, as if Enslaved had no idea what to put start the song off with. This introduction lasts a good while, overstaying it’s welcome horribly, and going into some heavier material that is on par with the opening tracks “Ethica Odini” and “Riaidho”, though it reverts back to it’s earlier Jazz like introduction for what feels like no real reason, leading to a song that feels more like something a Progressive Metalcore act such as Between the Buried and Me might offer up on an album, but just with a little Black Metal twist to it. If that’s not bad enough, “Lightening” lacks the Jazz-like introduction, and makes for a suitable end to the album, but at the same time doesn’t even sound like Enslaved. Instead, it sounds like the band had taken a concept off a recent Candlemass album, and plopped some of their signature Black and Viking sounds onto it with some out of place guitar progressions that act as bridges between styles.

Axiomal Ethica Odini is an album that has plenty of faults working against it, but there’s still plenty of positives to look at. Many of the songs on here, though lacking a great atmosphere due to the overall clarity of the music and vocals, still has a good amount of heavy tracks that sound great and will get the listener’s blood pumping. However, after “Axioma”, it’s a downward spiral really, with exception to “Giants”, which stands as one of the albums stronger tracks. In the long run, Axioma Ethica Odini sounds more like two EP put together, which may very well explain the title being the name of two tracks, as well as how diverse the closing five tracks are compared to the solid opening four. Between being a negative random approach in some songs, and not even sounding like Enslaved at times, this album is frustrating, and feels more like an experimental release then anything.

01. Ethica Odini – 7:59
02. Raidho – 6:01
03. Waruun – 6:42
04. The Beacon – 5:38
05. Axioma – 2:20
06. Giants – 6:37
07. Singular – 7:43
08. Night Sight – 7:36
09. Lightening – 7:51
Initial Pressing Score: 8/10

Enslaved
Enslaved

Digital review copy of this release provided by Nuclear Blast Records.