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Considering how vehemently punk and progressive rock audiences detested each other back in the late '70s, it is truly ironic that the prog rock element has become so strong in melodic death metal and symphonic black metal. The death metal/black metal field, after all, wouldn't have existed were it not for punk; black metal came out of death metal, which came out of thrash (the first true fusion of metal and punk). But then, dogma and sectarianism are things that intelligent musicians ultimately reject, which is why a symphonic black metal jewel like Ruun can be influenced by Pink Floyd (among many others) even though black metal's overall debt to punk remains undeniable (for that matter, very little post-'80s metal doesn't have some type of punk influence). There are some black metal purists who would argue that Enslaved's Ruun, like their Isa album, is too mindful of mainstream tastes, that the strong power metal and prog rock influence one hears on this 46-minute disc is an example of black metal being watered down and diluted. But what is watered down to one person is expansive and broad-minded to another, and make no mistake: Ruun epitomizes a very expansive vision of black metal. This is loud, heavy, intense, forceful, in-your-face music -- no one is going to mistake Ruun for a Celine Dion album anytime soon -- but it is also highly melodic, elaborate, and intricate. Listing all of the influences on this release would be time-consuming, but suffice it to say that elements of everything from punk to Pink Floyd to Ronnie James Dio to Scandinavian folk make their presence felt on Ruun. Recorded in 2005 and 2006, this excellent CD finds Enslaved very much on top of their black metal game 14 and 15 years after their formation.

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