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Few bands can boast the genre-bending savviness of Norway’s Enslaved. Spanning black, death and Viking metal with healthy sprinklings of prog and post-rock, the band’s style is anything but predictable. But what largely sets Enslaved apart from others who dabble in different sounds is the band’s authenticity. Few can go from Nordic sing-a-longs to black-metal shrieks and avoid sounding like jackals of all trades. And the thought of melding of dissonant riffs with swaggering beats may strike many as being all over the map. But with Vertebrae, Enslaved has managed to do just that with an album that is complex, abrasive and subtle all at once.

“Clouds” begins with a textural intro recalling vintage Rush, before moving into Viking territory with a set of melodic verses. But it’s not long before the eeriness sets in with a flurry of demonic hurls courtesy of vocalist Grutle Kjellson. “To The Coast” is crushing enough with its initial growls but quickly dissolves into a haze of multi-layered voices and enveloping guitars, all before launching into a staccato vocal affront. “Ground” has a jangly, psychedelic feel that recalls Pink Floyd, as does “Center,” once it moves past the Sabbath-esque intro. The title track is one of the more progressive numbers with an erratic structure that thrives on busy guitars, melodic choruses and some tasty keyboard work—none of which overpowers the other.

With Vertebrae, Enslaved further cements its legacy as an outfit hell-bent on musical exploration and genre manipulation. But besides the sonic barrage of power and volume, it’s largely a melodic album with a meticulous attention to detail.

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Weight 600 g