The fifteenth album by extreme prog metal band Enslaved, Utgard, has fallen into my lap, and I can confidently admit that I am conflicted. This seems to be a massive album with a resounding positive wall of feedback from critics, but I still remain aggravated by small details that miss the mark. Even with this focus on misplaced details, I can say Enslaved have released probably the biggest success in their discography to date.
With certain misplaced progressive breaks like on the first track, “Fires in the Dark,” rob this album’s greatnesses by removing the essential part of progressive music: Progression. However, these awkward instances don’t last too far into the album, as we’re quickly hit with “Jettegryta,” which is admittedly a juggernaut of a track; progressively hitting the nail on the head, sending the listener into a strange land of heavy metal psychedelia. Technically speaking, there is no argument that Enslaved can easily pull off nearly any style executed in this album and their sound is nearly flawless in every way; both mixing and recording along with general performances are top-notch.
Lots of spooky feelings and depth are added with “Utgardr” and “Flight of Thought and Memory.” Although we feel a bit of an identity crisis going on with Utgard, I can truly appreciate with all my heart the absolute craftsmanship it must have taken to put together a record like this. I can say that almost everything even remotely related to progressive music requires some sort of avant-garde thinking based on novelty. The evolution of sound is important in this genre, and Enslaved seems to do a good job by challenging pre-existing notions when it comes to progressive metal.
Written by Talia Plante
*Edited by Dominic Abate