Review by Shezma for Enslaved - Below the Lights (2003)
Over Produced Blackened Avant-Garde Metal
Enslaved is an early starter in the scene forming in 1991 amidst the Black Metal revolution in Norway. Now I haven't heard any of their earlier stuff, only later. These guys definitely stand out to that sound. At least on this record, it does not sound like a Norwegian Black Metal band from then. This album did release in 2003, and my late 90's- early 00's black metal is a weak game and I know that many of the older acts who release during this time also had some weaker albums. This is not a bad album but I won't be coming back to this. This is too avant-garde, or progressive, for a black metal mood and it's too black metal for a progressive metal mood for me.
For a black metal album, this is way too cleanly produced. I miss the time of old when the records were made in a cold dirty basement with sub-par equipment. At this point, they're so glossy and overproduced the instrumentation is so clean at times I wonder if it was done by a computer. Listening to this as I write, Queen Of Night, begins and it feels like Opeth or another folk/prog metal band. I'm into it, but then the black metal screams come in with completely different battling instrumentation going on in the background. I hear a lead guitar giving a solo while a rhythm guitar is giving a really cool progressive melody that eventually becomes repetitive and grading. And now an almost Depeche Mode like gloomy singing. Then back to fast beating guitars with the black metal vocals. This is a perfect song to talk about this album really, as it's all over the place and I am not a fan.
It's like a mash up of 3 or 4 good songs being played at once, if I focus one aspect at a time I enjoy it quite a bit. They're vocals keep me involved, the guitar work is super fun, the drums are driving, but together they don't feel like they belong. I would give this album an even worse rating, but I feel there is still talent and worth listening to. I can imagine there are those that find this to be one of the best, but for me it's talent wasted on overproduction and bad songwriting.