Norwegian metal band, Enslaved, have released a new single called Storm Son. Storm Son was released on the 11th of August via Nuclear Blast Records. It will feature on Enslaved’s 14th studio album, simply called E. E is due out on the 13th of October this year, also via Nuclear Blast.
With 13 full length’s under their belt already, Enslaved have obviously been working hard for a long time. They were formed way back in 1991 by then drummer Trym Torson, lead vocalist and bassist Grutle Kjellson and guitarist Ivar Bjornson. Torson left the band a few years later and there were a fair few line up changes over the years. Bjornsin and Kjellson have been ever present though. They are joined by Arve “Ice Dale” Isdal who is also on guitars and Cato Bekkevold who is on drums. Finally, joining this year we have Håkon Vinje on keyboards and clean vocals.
Known more for extreme/black metal, Enslaved have evolved over time to be a mix of genres. Lyrically they have stayed in and around Norse mythology and their Norwegian heritage. Enslaved are planning to shake their sound up again on E as they aim to “break free from genre boundaries”. E is due to offer a mix of progressive, extreme, black, folk, traditional and even shoegaze metal.
Storm Son is our first glimpse of this and it certainly does genre hop. Still at just under 11 minutes long, there is plenty of time to fit in a few extra genres. Starting with lots of atmospheric sampling, including some ghostly voices and a horses neigh, after about a minute a gentle melody starts playing. The melody continues to play amongst echoing background noise and it soon joined by a soft drum beat.
At almost 2 minutes in, it isn’t a start that grabs you. It borders on boring but about 2 and a half minutes in it finally settles into a nice little guitar hook. A drum roll introduces the electric guitars and the song comes to life. It isn’t fast and heavy but it is progressive and really atmospheric. Clean vocals with tons of backing are catchy and the guitar sin the background play some nice little lines. We start getting the odd growled line of vocals – always welcome. They sound really good against the mellow backing. A little Dark Tranquillity esque maybe but that is also a good thing.
The guitars move into a nice riff as the vocals turn to a more black metal style with guttural, drawn out words. The drums pick up pace and volume as the guitars play a repeated line. It goes on like this for a while and borders on boring but suddenly the music switches to a really fast riff, bass line and drum rhythm. The blackened vocals come back in as the drums blaze away before switching to a choir/orchestral chant. The pace and ferocity raises with a roar and we get another verse of dark metal. The song plays out the last minute or so instrumentally with a steady riff and drum beat over symphonic keys.
At almost 11 minutes long, Storm Son should feel like an epic but it doesn’t always to me. I enjoyed the start with samples and a gentle melody but not for almost 3 minutes. You start drifting, start switching off a little before the song finally kicks into life. When it does, it is enjoyable. You certainly notice all the different genres but they don’t feel too forced and flow nicely. There are great vocals, really standout drumming and some nice riffs. There is also a repeated guitar line in the middle that feels like it is repeated too many times. It goes on for a long while and isn’t that great a lead that you need to hear it that much.
These extended moments make the song feel like it is forced to be longer than it needs to be. A minute or 2 from the front and a little less repetition in the middle would have made for an 8 minute long masterpiece. I should say though when listened to along with watching the video it works better. I guess your eyes being kept busy makes you not really notice the duller moments. Storm Son is a good song, it just could have been great.
You can check out the video and music for Storm Son here. You can also pick it up, along with other Enslaved work, from the Apple and Amazon links below. Preorder the new album, E, from Nuclear Blast here. Be sure to look them up on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Make sure you like and follow their pages while you are there.
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Storm Son by Enslaved (E)
The Final Score - 6/10