ENSLAVED - E
October 25, 2017, a year ago
Norwegian progressive Viking metal horde, Enslaved, has endured an iconic, 26-year history. Bassist/vocalist Grutle Kjellson and guitarist Ivar Bjørnson have steered the Enslaved ship since they were 17 and 13 years old, respectively. The band has successfully shape-shifted genres by transforming from its early black metal days into its present prog-like state. In a way, Enslaved’s musical path is sort of similar to Opeth’s metamorphosis from death metal to prog, although Enslaved still uses growled vocals. Formed in 1991, Enslaved’s Norse mythology image separated itself from the burgeoning Satanic-laden Norwegian black metal scene of bands such as Mayhem, Emperor and Burzum. On its 14th full-length album, E, the band continues its prog-influenced tendencies it achieved on its last few releases, including 2015’s adventurous In Times.
The repeating melodies and ominous vocal harmonies of the 11-plus minute opener “Storm Son,” creates a mesmerizing effect from the beginning to the end of the track. It’s a bit of a different start compared to previous album-opening tracks. However, follow up track “The River's Mouth” explodes out of the gate with the band’s familiar Viking black metal vibe reminiscent of the band’s early days. The hypnotic, repetitive rhythms and ominous background vocals of the Pink Floyd-ish “Feathers Of Eolh” entrances for its eight captivating minutes. With Grutle Kjellson’s growled black metal screeches, combined with new keyboardist Håkon Vinje’s vibrant clean vocals, it assures that all six — although long-ish tracks — manages to hold the listener’s interest with its many dynamic shifts, transitional riffs and hypnotic harmonies. With the band’s quality of output over the span of its long career, you just can’t go wrong with a new Enslaved release.