Is this the metal release of the year so far ?
Sometimes a new album comes along that literally blows you off your feet it's so good. Some hit you straight away like a bullet between the eyes (see here for example), and some are what I call "growers" - they take multiple listens to fully open up because they are so layered and full of different emotions, tempos, and overall hugeness. Go and listen to a classic album like "The Sham Mirrors" by Arcturus to see what I mean (check the track Starcrossed here).
The new Enslaved album "Vertebrae" is a truly immense release, indeed I am of the feeling that it is my album of the year so far. It is that good. This is a monster, a true "grower", something that I am listening to over and over again, and each and every time I am hearing new things that get me going. This is extreme metal, make no mistake, but it is hugely progressive, thoughtful and just downright awesome. When metal is this good I have to be careful not to weep with the sheer emotion of it all. Check out a few tracks here.
Every single track starts off of course as a song when you first "spin" the CD, but the next time around and you begin to understand just what is going on as the different layers of music within each song begin to open up and reveal themselves. Give me a few more releases like this and I might consider changing jobs and looking for work as a metal reviewer !! Seriously, "Vertebrae" is immense. Go and buy it now and then spend the whole weekend with it on repeat.
How on earth does a relatively small country such as Norway keep on producing so much outstanding music ? I would guess that more CDs than any in my somewhat huge collection are from Norwegian bands. Black, death, thrash, heavy, progressive, you name it, Norway contains some of the world's greatest metal bands. And the fishing ain't bad either...............!!
I am especially glad to be able to praise this new Enslaved album so much because their drummer Cato Bekkevold is a friend, and he happens to be one of the biggest fishing junkies in Norway. Apart from being an outstanding drummer and a thoroughly nice guy, he also writes and photographs about fishing for various magazines and books - Cato seriously knows his fishing, indeed he catches more big pike, cod, coalfish and other such beasts than anybody I know. I also know that he has a series of signature pike lures out there, made by a company a company called StrikePro, see here. How cool is that ? As I keep banging on about, what better mix can there be in life than fishing and extreme metal ? Except that Cato is actually doing the metal part big time, instead of simply air drumming like me !!
I still get emails about the TV programme that we filmed up in Norway, for those huge coalfish, cod and wolffish, and not many people know that we only got to hear about those places because of Cato. He told us we had to come and film the fishing at Rost and Saltstraumen, and I listened to him because I trusted his opinion. Anybody who has seen the programme will have seen how insane the fishing was up there, and it seems to be getting better and better every year. Check out some photos here, here and here. Cato came with us when we filmed - I owe that episode to the guy big time. What an outstanding drummer as well.
It is Cato you can see in the photo above and further on down the page - I photographed Enslaved up in London when they last toured the UK, for Metal Hammer magazine, and they blew the other bands off stage that night. As a live act they are truly immense, and after I had done my bit photos wise down in the pit, Cato had got me access to take photos around his drum kit. It was a blast. There are some more photos of the band below. Check here as well. Go and buy this new album.