Mardraum (Beyond the Within)
(Osmose Productions)

These are grim days for Osmose, once leading the field with plenty to spare now clutching at straws. The flagship bands both IMMORTAL and MARDUK having moved onto newer waters and both IMPALED NAZARENE and ENSLAVED in what must be considered a slump. Desperately searching for something to pin their flag to Osmose have rallied around this the new ENSLAVED album. Which can’t be too bad for ENSLAVED, their position as top dog at Osmose now without question. And I will have to admit at first inspection “Mardraum” is indeed a dramatic improvement over the very lacklustre “Blodhemn” that preceded it. The band seem more relaxed and focused and while I feel the much touted psychedelic influence is a red herring… simply being the presence of a few more spacious moments, I can’t help feeling “Mardraum” although improved is another chapter of under achievement from ENSLAVED. The jarring rhythms I can never seem to quite make sense of, the epic nestling awkwardly beside MOTÖRHEAD style punk riffs (as most of “Blodhemn” indeed was) a part of ENSLAVED I can never reconcile myself with. Perhaps the problem for me is the classic spectre of “Hordanes Land” looming large over everything they have done since and nothing especially after “Frost” seems to convince me. There will be many of you no doubt overjoyed at the prospect of a return to form from ENSLAVED and the scene really needs a strong album from a band like ENSLAVED, a band sticking to their roots and not embracing industrial electronica or jumping on the Death Metal trend bandwagon for that I commend them but whether or not this is actually it I have my doubts?



Related reviews / interviews:
ENSLAVED - The Sleeping Gods (Anders Peter Jørgensen)
ENSLAVED - Vertebrae (Torsten Gründig)
ENSLAVED - Live Retaliation (Ramon Claassen)
ENSLAVED - Monumension (Frank Stöver )

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