Black Metal can be a tricky lot. Lyrics and image seem to pigeonhole bands into a corner that they cannot get out of. Nor do many seem to want to leave that corner. The genre seems to embrace horrible production thinking it is the most troo. Going so far to releasing stuff on cassette.
Except for my 2000 Dodge Neon, I do not know of another cassette player outside of a resale shop.
Then along comes Enslaved and sets the genre on its’ corpse painted ear. Their latest offering from the cold tundras of Noway is RIITIR. To put it mildly, this is a game changer. What Leviathan and Operation:Mindcrime was to its’ time, RIITIIR is to the present.
RIITIIR shows bands what they can do and not to be confined by genre labels.
When describing Enslaved the word “progressive” gets added on to black metal. It is fitting because the band certainly knows how to play. However, it is not the noodling a Dream Theater, more along the mines of Nachtmystium. “Roots of the Mountain” is over 9 minutes long with lots of soloing but it more for building an atmosphere than for showing off. There is still the the guttural vocals most identified with black metal but they are nicely countered with clean ones. It adds a nice contrast and really helps convey emotion to the tracks.
It kicks off with “Thoughts Like Hammers” a perfect representation of the whole album. Starting with a slow heavy dirgy riff and and vocals that are so shredded you can hear the larynx tear. Then comes the chorus with clean vocals and they are harmonized.
HARMONY?!?! In Black Metal? Yes, and it works so good especially when it goes back into the opening sequence. It’s just so refreshing to hear a band push away the supposed definitions of what they are supposed to play. There is a lot of instrumentation and those passages give the album space and a direction.
The beauty of RIITIIR is being a great gateway album for those that may not like Black Metal. The vocals are not as typically off putting and the music, while still heavy, has is not as dissonant yet very powerful.
RIITIIR may have come out in 2012 and I am late to the party, as usual. However, this is a Top 5 release of ’12 and fans of all styles of heavy should get this.
Final rating, I’d be happy paying…
$14.99-Regularly Priced CD
$9.99-Download from iTunes or Amazon
$5.00-wait for Amazon to have it on sale
$1.00-finding at a flea market, car wash, or pawn shop
$0-Not worth the drive space