Axioma Ethica Odini review by Enslaved

logo Ultimate Guitar
  • Released: Sep 27, 2010
  • Sound: 9
  • Lyrics: 8
  • Overall Impression: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 8.3 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.7 (21 votes)
Enslaved: Axioma Ethica Odini
2

Sound — 9
I've always distrusted the term 'progressive black metal' because black metal in general hasn't progressed much in the last 20 years. Its more or less black metal and some other influence added on to it, for example, melodic black metal: Some carcass guitar harmonies and possibly a few clean vocals if ya lucky but other than that, it's just black metal. But last week I had the delightful surprise of being able to purchase a Terrorizer from some shop somewhere (I've never been a consistent chap) and was reading the editors notes about Enslaved's new album. I'd heard about them being very different from today's black metal contemporaries and taking a similar line to progression as Opeth. Naturally, I was sceptical. But... ...listening to the first track 'Ethica Odini', I was absolutely stunned. After a vague and boring intro of a creaking boat (I'm assuming that's what it is) it bursts into this massive sounding riff which sounds incredibly similar to the verse riff in Iron Maiden's 'Wasted Years'. Needless to say, while listening to it I felt like being sonically pummelled in the ears by this massive wall of sound. The same can be said for the rest of album: In an almost polarization to black metal ethos, the quality of the recording and production is exceptionally produced and the use of layered keyboards (much like Textures) really amplifies the melodies to make them far beyond epic. Sonically, very few negative points to make. If I had one big complaint, it would be the use of repetition. While a lot of prog bands draw songs out, that's because they are abundant with ideas and riffs. Enslaved however, is still a black metal band primarily and so like black metal bands, repeat sections throughout songs to extend their length. I suppose this isn't necessarily a bad thing when all you're listening to is the same epic melodies from before, but then again progheads like prog to be progressive and not repetitive.

Lyrics — 8
Grutle Kjellson, bassist and lead vocalist, has one of the best harsh vocal techniques in black metal. He sums up the perfect sound that isn't a scream nor a growl but more of a biting hiss. Similar vocalists are Jari Maenpaa (Wintersun) and Jeff Walker (Carcass). But it may have grabbed your attention that there is a clean vocalist too. This, I believe, is keyboardist Herbrand Larsen. But at first listen, you'd be forgiven for thinking it was Mikael Akerfeldt because there is little differentiation between their voices. Does this work with the epic, epic melodies and general black metal sound? To a point, but it sounds a little underwhelming during heavier sections. Herbrand's voice only really sounds brilliant during the softer, more acoustic orientated sections but he still has the skill to carry the melodies during the heavy sections too. Lyrically speaking, I'd hate to say 'Usual black metal fare' but Christianity is such a juicy target that Enslaved can't help but give them a worded bashing. The first track 'Ethic Odini' shows this masterfully worded theme: Who told you to abandon life? Your strength, your free will And bow for the light? The light and turn from the spinning wheel Fear of the judgement, Obey! I wouldn't say the lyrics are all out rebellion against Christianity, but it's a prominent theme in the lyrics while the other main theme is that old reliable golden retriever called 'Self-betterment'. However, while listening to the actual music, you could never have guessed that that's what they were singing about.

Overall Impression — 8
As frequently as I have tried to deny progressive black metal's existence, Enslaved really are progressive black metal. If there was any band to compare it to, it would have to be Opeth. Why? Well, listen to the structure, tone and general sound of an Opeth song and a song from this album and then decide. If everything was a simple as 'This is called that' then Enslaved is the black metal version of Opeth (which now takes the top spot over Borknagar for me). As a sheer listening experience, very few bands can make this massive wall of epic sound work without a compromise. Songs to look up: The entire album, it's that special.

31 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Echoplex
    I have Borknagar's most recent, but I haven't gotten into Enslaved's newer stuff. I need to look this up.
    Burning_Angel
    duncang wrote: Perhaps not the best choice of album. "black metal in general hasn't progressed much in the last 20 years" "like black metal bands, repeat sections throughout songs to extend their length." Plus way, way too many comparisons to Opeth.
    this. Oh, and really. Grutle is NOT similar to Jari. Grutle is quite unique. And Herbrand's voice >>>>> Mikaels, to me. See: Lightening. Whole goddamn thing. Herbrand has quite the voice, and an ear for melody. Plus, the singing is finally not shaky on AEO. ...aaaaannnnd the lyrics, as has always been the case with Enslaved, have naught to do with Christianity. They have rather more to do with Norse mythology. They've always steered clear of anti religion/anti christianity/whatever. Oh, and progressive black? I implore you to listen to Odem Arcarum. Among a great many others. It's out there, for those willing to search a tad.
    Drohva
    I've got a feeling that Deathspell Omega and Emperor fans my not appreciate your dismissal of Progressive Black Metal.
    helvete_og_død
    black metal may be repetitive, but that doesn't make it any less awesome. and by the way.... the song "Lightening"... PURE FUCKING AWESOMENESS!!!1!!!1!!!
    the_jackyl
    webbtje wrote: progheads like prog to be progressive and not repetitive That's a nice little false dichotomy you have there.
    yeah, no shit.
    Burning_Angel
    seemeel wrote: I checked out the first song. They need to sack that screaming buffoon and let the guy who can actually sing handle all vocals. I actually rather liked it, apart from the god awful screeching vocals
    Fail. That is all. and progbass, one could also say In Lingua Mortua, Fleurety, Kvist, Solefald, Solstafir, etc etc...
    FearOfTheDuck
    EpiExplorer
    Do you understand the idea of reviewing? Its to review albums. These reviews are posted on a website, such as UG. As a consequence, the reviews get attention. Thats the only reason why I do this, is to try and expand my own taste and everyone elses but yet for some reason there's always the dissenters who feel the need to bitch. Now I know how Yahtzee feels with every bahbahwhineysheep comment he gets on his videos..
    Dude, i've seen you bitch on countless posts and not give a valid reason.
    seemeel
    EpiExplorer wrote: The Wildchild wrote: what poor misinformed little man I think that'd be rich uninformed very tall man.
    The reviewer sees fit to challenge the view of anyone who disagrees with his review... I think he should learn to tale criticism. Additionally, this kid's 18, so if he is rich, as he claims, it's not his own money!
    TwistClock
    I would say Pensees Nocturnes is more of a black metal band with a classical twist- and dsbm on the first album.
    Disturbdkornkid
    Pretty good as far as black metal goes. Not to say I don't like black metal, it's just harder to get into I find. Good review too.
    seemeel
    I checked out the first song. They need to sack that screaming buffoon and let the guy who can actually sing handle all vocals. I actually rather liked it, apart from the god awful screeching vocals. BUT - the review - what a misinformed point of view the reviewer is getting across... I think we can sum this up by saying that it's an intriguing album, but a mediocre review.
    progbass
    Pensees Nocturnes, La Rumeaur des Chaones, and Ordo Draconis also come to mind under the progressive black metal moniker Also stereotyping black metal such as the "hasn't progressed much in 20 years" was just a blatant show of ignorance
    duncang
    Perhaps not the best choice of album. "black metal in general hasn't progressed much in the last 20 years" "like black metal bands, repeat sections throughout songs to extend their length." Plus way, way too many comparisons to Opeth.
    EpiExplorer
    TsarBomba wrote: EpiExplorer wrote: TsarBomba wrote: lol, internet dweller. I guess it sucks writing a review and expecting only people who agree with you to post. Do you understand the idea of reviewing? Its to review albums. These reviews are posted on a website, such as UG. As a consequence, the reviews get attention. Thats the only reason why I do this, is to try and expand my own taste and everyone elses but yet for some reason there's always the dissenters who feel the need to bitch. Now I know how Yahtzee feels with every bahbahwhineysheep comment he gets on his videos.. jetfuel495 The review made me want to check out the album, so job well done. THANKYOU, see? This is the sort of thing I aim for. So basically, 'waah waah, I don't like that things I post in a public forum get posts contrary to my opinion presented'.
    You can interpret it as anything you want to, but this is to clarify that I do it as a reviewer and not as a segregator, which is what you desperately want me to be.
    TsarBomba
    EpiExplorer wrote: TsarBomba wrote: lol, internet dweller. I guess it sucks writing a review and expecting only people who agree with you to post. Do you understand the idea of reviewing? Its to review albums. These reviews are posted on a website, such as UG. As a consequence, the reviews get attention. Thats the only reason why I do this, is to try and expand my own taste and everyone elses but yet for some reason there's always the dissenters who feel the need to bitch. Now I know how Yahtzee feels with every bahbahwhineysheep comment he gets on his videos.. jetfuel495 The review made me want to check out the album, so job well done. THANKYOU, see? This is the sort of thing I aim for.
    So basically, 'waah waah, I don't like that things I post in a public forum get posts contrary to my opinion presented'.
    EpiExplorer
    TsarBomba wrote: lol, internet dweller. I guess it sucks writing a review and expecting only people who agree with you to post.
    Do you understand the idea of reviewing? Its to review albums. These reviews are posted on a website, such as UG. As a consequence, the reviews get attention. Thats the only reason why I do this, is to try and expand my own taste and everyone elses but yet for some reason there's always the dissenters who feel the need to bitch. Now I know how Yahtzee feels with every bahbahwhineysheep comment he gets on his videos..
    jetfuel495 The review made me want to check out the album, so job well done.
    THANKYOU, see? This is the sort of thing I aim for.
    FearOfTheDuck
    Hmmm not really breaking any new grounds like you said on the BMTH post. Christian bashing? About as fresh as the underpants i've been wearing for the last two days. Nice review though
    TsarBomba
    lol, internet dweller. I guess it sucks writing a review and expecting only people who agree with you to post.
    EpiExplorer
    BlackSymphony6 wrote: The Wildchild wrote: what poor misinformed little man He's a patronising little twat as well.
    So? You keep reading my reviews. If I'm that, then you're a typical contradicitng internet-dweller.
    BlackSymphony6
    The Wildchild wrote: what poor misinformed little man
    He's a patronising little twat as well.
    EpiExplorer
    The Wildchild wrote: what poor misinformed little man
    I think that'd be rich uninformed very tall man.
    Lion_Slicer
    A black Opeth? Must check out... Okay, just listened to Ethica Odini. Like you said, stunned. The production and general feel reminded me a lot of Immortal's All Shall Fall from last year, that huge and crisply produced sound. I'm pretty impressed... and that solo is one of the more beautiful moments I've heard out of black metal. These guys have it going on, can't wait to hear the rest of the album...
    webbtje
    progheads like prog to be progressive and not repetitive
    That's a nice little false dichotomy you have there.