Getting Into: Enslaved
|Written by:||Baz Anderson|
With these "Getting Into" articles I present fair and full descriptions of a band's discography of studio albums. Each has a clear rating out of five as a way of aiding people that want to get into such bands but do not know where to start. This is a clear guide of how to get into the band in question.
Black metal / Progressive metal
Perhaps unlike any other extreme metal band in the world; Enslaved have evolved spectacularly from their raw beginnings. Through two decades the Bergen-based band have meandered down the black metal path dabbling with Viking and progressive elements, arriving today as the rounded progressive extreme metal band we see now. In the early nineties Norway produced a surge of bands all playing a similar take on the same black metal formula. As the years have passed these bands evolved in their separate directions; Emperor, Darkthrone, Mayhem, Immortal, Burzum, Enslaved - all completely different bands to each other today. From the very beginning however, Enslaved were that bit different.
|Vikingligr Veldi (1994)|
A very important year for black metal; Emperor were releasing In The Nightside Eclipse, Mayhem were finally releasing De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, and Enslaved released two albums both very different from each other. The first, Vikingligr Veldi, was different to anything their cohorts were releasing in that four of the five tracks on the album clocked in at over ten minutes. This is an epic album of icy black metal, not afraid to use the keyboards and add extra layers in the back, Vikingligr Veldi was far ahead of its time. The influence this album gave, with songs such as "Heimdallr" especially is particularly evident in such bands as Windir and Moonsorrow.
Recommended songs: "Midgards Elder", "Heimdallr"
In the same year and the last release with future Emperor drummer Trym behind the kit, Frost gave the opposite side of the coin to the debut album. This album is much more raw and typically black metal, although songs such as "Yggdrasil" clearly show the Vikings influences becoming slightly more prominent in their music. Even compared to the couple of albums standard-bearers Immortal had released at the time, Frost showed much more diversity in their song structures. Even so, this album remains a raw and savage assault of cold black metal with, much like their counterparts Emperor at the time, a little unique twist.
Recommended songs: "Loke", "Svarte Vidder"
With the third album Enslaved took their first big risk. Opening the album with the longest song the band have to their name, Eld marks the moment major Viking influence found its way so explicitly into their music. Infrequent clean vocals, a few appearances by an acoustic guitar, epic layers; Eld pushed the boundaries of what black metal was. By all means still a cutting black metal album above anything else, Enslaved were showing signs of evolving and a refusal to stick to a typical musical formula. Eld is not as punishing as the albums either side to it, but it does have much more depth.
Recommended songs: "Hordalendingen", "Glemt"
Just one year later and Enslaved present the other side of the coin once more. Blodhemn is the most savage and brutal the band has been. The band still brought forward a few of the aspects of the previous album, but Blodhemn is largely more of a throwback to the raw style of the Frost album. This is Enslaved's fastest and most unrelenting release, perhaps as a knee-jerk reaction to the potential backlash the band received with the direction of the previous album. Blodhemn is much more one-directional in its approach, but it is certainly very effective at what it does. The subtle epic Viking influences brought forward from Eld combined with the primitive black metal style makes this album a real blast to listen to, and also the last Enslaved album so black metal-driven.
Recommended songs: "Nidingaslakt", "Eit Auga Til Mimir"
|Mardraum - Beyond The Within (2000)|
At the turn of the millennium, Enslaved were also undergoing a transformation themselves. As if the shackles had been removed, Mardraum - Beyond The Within marks the most significant change the band have made. While still maintaining their black metal core the band developed their Viking sound with this bold and epic release, but also introduced a significant progressive aspect to their music. After the ten-minute pounding introduction, "Daudningekvida" illustrates this change wonderfully with the magnificent spontaneous guitar solo mid-way through while chaos ensues in the background, followed by "Entrance - Escape" - a remarkable, steady-paced progressive piece like nothing the band had given before. Mardraum - Beyond The Within is the centre of the Enslaved universe; equally raw as it is progressive. Such an underrated and overlooked album, the balance here is spot on.
Recommended songs: "Dandningekvida", "Stjerneheimen"
The first album using the English language, Monumension also marks the point where Enslaved begin to dramatically lose their traditional black metal side and delve deeper into the progressive and slightly experimental world. Certainly the most progressive the band had been up to this point, almost too indulgently so. The album is not an easy one to follow, but does have a lot of depth and some extremely interesting moments. For the first time Enslaved showed glimpses of the band they would become, but Monumension is not the complete package.
Recommended songs: "The Voices", "Hollow Inside"
|Below The Lights (2003)|
With Below The Lights, Enslaved really started to hone their skills. The band no longer resembled black metal as previously known, but this album birthed the progressive extreme metal style the band play to this day. While not as out-of-the-box-thinking as the previous album, this one is still original and perhaps more accessible. The opening track "As Fire Swept Clean The Earth" is the star of the album, but other great tracks can also be found. Below The Lights only lacks an addictive element, it isn't as bold or memorable as other Enslaved albums, and although the band were still evolving and progressing with their sound, they were yet to find the magic formula.
Recommended songs: "As Fire Swept Clean The Earth", "A Darker Place"
Just one year later and the band released an album that turned the heads of the metal world. Building on the style of the previous album, Isa boasted a much clearer production and a much more competent and complete band. Isa is the first Enslaved album as a five-piece and the change is remarkable. Such progressive song structures and a great atmosphere, Enslaved let their creative juices flow like never before with this album, resulting in a phenomenal album that consumes the listener and keeps them guessing what will come next. Isa is the first Enslaved album in this style where everything clicked into place; the album still has extreme moments, but these compliment the softer sections and vice-versa. The evolved Enslaved had finally blossomed.
Recommended songs: "Bounded By Allegiance", "Neogenesis"
In the spotlight now, and with a greater appreciation and a wider audience Ruun followed on where the previous album left off. A similar cover, a similar style, Ruun is the Enslaved album where the least progression was made from previous to current album. This was not a problem however, as the universe aligned and everything worked when Isa was being created. Ruun then perhaps lives in the shadow of its predecessor, but that is not to take away from the consistent brilliantness of the band to create another album of such immense quality.
Recommended songs: "Entroper", "Essence"
Moving forwards, Enslaved subtly changed their sound once more. While still very much in the same vein as the last few albums, Vertebrae was somehow softer with a slightly less polished production. While still a great album, the enjoyable harsh edge is absent here and the equilibrium that had made Enslaved so enjoyable in previous years was somewhat lacking. Vertebrae is the softest album the band have put out over the years, but it does still have some great moments that shouldn't be forgotten.
Recommended songs: "Clouds", "New Dawn"
|Axioma Ethica Odini (2010)|
Two years later and Enslaved were about to stamp their authority in the most impressive way yet. The universe once again aligned for Axioma Ethica Odini as the band's evolution took them to greatness with this masterpiece of progressive extreme metal. Soaring guitars, clean vocals, an amazing atmosphere; Axioma Ethica Odini is an album like none other. Enslaved knew what they wanted with this enchanting release; although it is progressive, it doesn't deviate or experiment for the sake of it. This album is pure bliss, especially the second half from the titanic "Giants" through to the end. Not many albums can unite so many people in unanimous awe, but Axioma Ethica Odini is one of those precious and rare cases.
Recommended songs: "Ethica Odini", "Lightening"
Up to the current time and Enslaved were keen to prove once more they have the skill, quality and experience to create yet another album of the quality now expected of them. RIITIIR continues the evolution of the band manifesting itself in the form of more dynamic songs with even more depth and detail in them. Enslaved are absolutely at the top of their game in every aspect there is. RIITIIR may be intimidatingly complex or challenging to connect with at first, unlike the previous album, but the quality is there and an amazing experience is waiting once the layers do come back. Enslaved have done it again.
Recommended songs: "Death In The Eyes Of Dawn", "Roots Of The Mountain"
Enslaved have changed so much over the years that the most ideal place to delve into the discography will change from person to person. This band have provided one of the most impressive stories of extreme metal; from their beginnings in church-burning, black metal Norway to the hugely impressive progressive and awe-inspiring extreme metal albums in recent years. Through their discography the band have so much to offer, be it unrelenting and raw black metal, Viking-clad epic black metal, progressive metal mixed with all of the previous, or the later incantations of progressive extreme metal. Enslaved was formed by Ivar and Grutle when they were teenagers, it is amazing to see how far this musical experience has come so far. Let's hope for a few more years yet.
||Posted on 01.10.2012 by Member of Staff since 2006.|
Comments: 28 Visited by: 382 users
| Alex F
| Bad English
| Marcel Hubregtse
Grumpy Old Fuck
| Kurty Wurty
No, you don't
| Marcel Hubregtse
Grumpy Old Fuck
| Ace Frawley
Au Pays Natal
Hits total: 7132 | This month: 41