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Enslaved biography
Formed in 1991 by a 17 year old Grutle Kjellson and a 13 year old Ivar Bjørnson (the band's only two constant members and main creative force), Enslaved began life as part of Norway's blossoming black metal scene. Early releases such as Hordanes Land (also released as part of an infamous split with Emperor) and Vikingligr Veldi established the epic, majestic sound known as viking metal and gained the band a steady following within black metal circles. Their ferocious yet soaring black metal placed them at the forefront of their subgenre, yet their artistic ambitions would soon pull them in new directions. 2000's "Mardraum: Beyond the Within" began a trend of more ambitious, diverse and prog-influenced songwriting encorporated into their black metal style, one which has continued ever since. Influences from groups such as Yes and Pink Floyd have become increasingly evident on more recent Enslaved releases, somewhat alienating certain members of their devoted black metal fanbase but opening their doors to thousands of new fans. Though they remain epic, this new approach is epic in an entirely different manner and has additionally made them one of the leading prog-metal acts.

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Hordanes Land, EP (1993)
Vikingligr Veldi, studio album (1994)
Frost, studio album (1994)
Eld, studio album (1997)
Blodhemn, studio album (1998)
Mardraum: Beyond the Within, studio album (2000)
Monumension, studio album (2001)
Below the Lights, studio album (2003)
Isa, studio album (2004)
Runn, studio album (2006)

Enslaved official website

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The Sleeping Gods ThornThe Sleeping Gods Thorn
Audio CD$11.99
Candlelight 2005
Audio CD$3.79
$2.50 (used)
Nuclear Blast America 2012
Audio CD$4.87
$3.54 (used)
Nuclear Blast America 2008
Audio CD$7.33
$5.83 (used)
Hordanes LandHordanes Land
Import · Limited Edition
Audio CD$7.70
$6.00 (used)
Below the LightsBelow the Lights
Osmose Productions 2003
Audio CD$10.76
$20.65 (used)
Vikingligr VeldiVikingligr Veldi
Axioma Ethica OdiniAxioma Ethica Odini
Import · Limited Edition
$214.00 (used)
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ENSLAVED discography

Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help to complete the discography and add albums

ENSLAVED top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.55 | 60 ratings
Vikingligr Veldi
3.47 | 58 ratings
3.70 | 52 ratings
3.32 | 45 ratings
3.61 | 54 ratings
Mardraum: Beyond the Within
4.07 | 64 ratings
4.17 | 94 ratings
Below The Lights
4.17 | 194 ratings
4.01 | 109 ratings
3.99 | 116 ratings
4.06 | 183 ratings
Axioma Ethica Odini
3.88 | 192 ratings
3.77 | 59 ratings
In Times

ENSLAVED Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

ENSLAVED Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

4.33 | 3 ratings
Live Retaliation
4.71 | 7 ratings
Return to Yggdrasill

ENSLAVED Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

ENSLAVED Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

1.66 | 6 ratings
2.59 | 8 ratings
3.07 | 14 ratings
Hordanes Land
4.16 | 10 ratings
Emperor / Hordanes Land split CD
3.18 | 21 ratings
The Sleeping Gods
3.04 | 13 ratings


Showing last 10 reviews only
 In Times by ENSLAVED album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.77 | 59 ratings

In Times
Enslaved Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

4 stars 'In Times' - Enslaved (82/100)

Enslaved have pulled off a seemingly impossible double-feat with their career. Not only have they managed to keep up with consistent quality well over a decade after most bands would have met their expiry date, they also continuously reinvented themselves while they were at it. With every Enslaved record, you could count on them not to rest on their laurels. Their inevitable prog rock destination was pretty apparent even from the start, but like rewatching a favourite film, it was easy to love an experience of the journey, even if you already knew how it was going to end up.

I've never been quite as sold on Enslaved as some of my friends, often having found them a bit too formal and restrained. That said, they always managed to keep me engaged throughout their career. I think they hit their stride with Axioma Ethica Odini at the start of the decade. By that point, their progressive metal transformation was complete, and you can bet they made a good time of it. That album came with the sort of energy and fulfillment that comes when a band is making the music they were born to create. On RIITIIR and now with In Times, it finally sounds like Enslaved found their promised land and are learning to stick with it.

Even if it was one of my most anticipated albums of last year, In Times never seemed to catch my attention at the time. I enjoyed it the few times I heard it, but unlike the triad of albums that came before it, it never served to leap out and demand I listened more. It took a wide revisitation of the band's material to finally push me to give this album the time it deserved. For one, I'm glad I did. As any fan might have predicted, In Times holds itself to a high standard of quality. At a glance, it's very much the same upbeat prog sound they've been doing since Axioma Ethica Odini. At the same time, it's less immediate than its predecessors, preferring to emphasize melody over the crunchy fireworks showcased on RIITIIR. Enslaved's perennial innovation has finally shown its signs of slowing down, but staying in the same place isn't keeping them from writing some fantastic material.

I don't think it's really fair to think of Enslaved as having stagnated. The big leaps are conceivably over from the looks of it, but rather than staying in the same place, it's better to think the band as having slowed down to a more typical rate of evolution. While the developments get slighter with each album, there's still enough to distinguish In Times from its 2012 predecessor. While I identified RIITIIR with its heaviness or Axioma with its upbeat energy, the material here is distinguished by its emphasis on melody and atmosphere. In a certain way, it's almost as if they wanted to recreate echoes of Monumension for their latest era. All of that is perfectly fine with me. Enslaved trying to be dark or heavy on recent albums felt vaguely like an out-of-touch dad picking up skateboarding in an effort to appeal to his kids. Even if the attempt at heaviness was sincere and well-executed, it's not the proper fit for them, and hasn't been in a long while. By that rubric, In Times' melodic shift is all for the best.

Whether it's "Building with Fire" or my personal favourite "Nauthir Bleeding", a lot of the album's best moments are thanks to Herbrand Larsen's clean vocal performance. In an album I thought I could predict note for note, that's a part of it that has me surprised. Since Enslaved began using Herbrand's voice to contrast Grutle's snarl, his delivery was often thin and timid, limiting the emotional effect of their choruses. I was happy to hear his voice improve on RIITIIR, and the same has happened to an even greater extent here. While the rest of the band has remained the same, Herbrand belts out with all the confidence and charisma Enslaved deserve to be fronted with. Although the rest of the sound here is very familiar, that one relatively small improvement does a lot to help the sound as a whole.

In Times doesn't have a highlight quite as high as "Death in the Eyes of Dawn", but it does come across as a much more coherent and consistent album than RIITIIR. Only the track "In Times" itself feels overdrawn and somewhat boring. The rest of these tracks feel warm, urgent and fiery. Even if I've learned not to expect anything really new from them in the future, Enslaved are learning to impress me in new ways. The style they've settled on is resulting in some of the most solid material in their entire career. Better still, they're not using the settled style as an excuse to be lazy. Rather, a lot of the tiny improvements that may have been swept aside by groundbreaking shifts are given much-desired attention. If I've ever been cynical about the modern era of Enslaved at times, all it seems to take is a new album to remind me they really do deserve practically all of the praise they receive.

 Emperor / Hordanes Land split CD by ENSLAVED album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1993
4.16 | 10 ratings

Emperor / Hordanes Land split CD
Enslaved Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

4 stars 'Emperor / Hordanes Land' - Emperor / Enslaved (77/100)

The split between Emperor and Enslaved remains a standout from the height of the Second Wave, but it owes its full significance to the achievements both acts would reach later on. Given Norway's hotbed status for black metal throughout the 90s, it's not surprising some of the best would team up at one point or another. Both bands were young, and still in the process of finding their voice when this split came out. The rest, of course, is history. If Emperor did not innovate the symphonic black metal sound (I'd say the credit goes to Master's Hammer) they certainly perfected it on their first two albums. As for Enslaved, their career's been nothing if not consistent. Viking-lore infused black metal ultimately gave way to a rich, progressive sound. Not that you'd ever guess that from the music here. As deceptively sophisticated as the arrangements here are, the impression is moreso one of primal molten creativity and rawness in the truest of black metal customs.

Effectively a combination of Emperor's self-titled EP and Enslaved's Hordanes Land, I loved this split years ago. Today I still do, though now it strikes me more as a pair of parallel works-in-progress. Both Emperor and Enslaved would make fantastic bounds for black metal with their first two respective albums. Emperor / Hordanes Land is made a bit less interesting by the fact that the former would re-record their tracks in better shape for In the Nightside Eclipse. As for Enslaved's offering, I've come to see Hordanes Land as a much-welcomed expansion to their own debut Vikingligr Veldi. The two halves were made independently of one another, and were originally intended to be heard each on their own. Even so, with the two together, you get an impressive one-two punch. Both bands are impressive on their own; together, they complement one another, and there's more than enough of a distinction between the two to keep the music fresh.

When I call this split a "work in progress" for both bands involved, I don't think that's a bad thing at all. While it may have been less favourable to hear this rough display on a full-length, the bands here are making rough strokes already with a unique personality. Emperor's trademark speed and symphonic accoutrements are already in sight, although fans of In the Nightside Eclipse won't be surprised by anything they hear here. Although I prefer Emperor over Enslaved most days, I'd actually say the Hordanes Land offers the most promise here. The guys were in their teens and already playing with longer song structures and deeper orchestrations. The primitive mix of Viking metal with a primitive symphonic lean in the direction of their splitmates is a great combination, and I think the band pulls it off very well.

Both sides of this split were released on their own before getting paired up, and I think the halves ultimately deserve to be interpreted independently first, and as a split second. Although the In the Nightside Eclipse rerecordings make Emperor's side less essential in context, musically I'd ay the two are just as solid. It's a really interesting thing to hear two bands make their own unique statements on a single disc. If anything, Emperor / Hordanes Land goes to remind us just how individually talented that classic Norwegian hotbed really was. Since then, the two have carved out amazing legacies for themselves. As a fan of both, it's pretty cool to hear the two together when they were first starting out.

 Nema by ENSLAVED album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1991
1.66 | 6 ratings

Enslaved Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by thwok

2 stars I'll start with the fact that I'm an Enslaved fanatic, because it is relevant. They're one of the bands that I spend the most time listening to. It's the reason that I gave this NEMA demo a chance, despite the predominantly dismal reviews it's received from others. I think PA collaborator siLLy puPPy is right on track with his review. In terms of sound quality, I will rank this one higher than the YGGDRASIL demo. I'm not one who cares much about sound quality, as long as I can hear each instrument.

Sadly, even the re-released version of YGGDRASIL is unlistenable for me. NEMA is clearly a record made by inexperienced young men. I can't single out any song as being significantly better than the others; the two fully developed songs overstay their welcome somewhat. There are occasional hints of Enslaved's future creativity on display in NEMA. I would recommend this record as an occasional diversion for true fans, which is the definition of a 2-star release.

 Blodhemn by ENSLAVED album cover Studio Album, 1998
3.32 | 45 ratings

Enslaved Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

3 stars Something happened on album #4 from Norway's premiere progressive black metal band ENSLAVED. They actually had a retrograde. One of the things i love about this band is how they slowly ratchet themselves up progressively making each release a little bit more sophisticated than the rest for most of their career. Well, on BLODHEMN (Vengeance In Blood) we have a little step backwards in the quality department and although this is perfectly executed black metal in action, let's face it. We're talking about ENSLAVED here and substandard just doesn't cut the mustard, but it doesn't quite cut the cheese either. This is an example of a great band falling off a rung or two on the way up the ladder and even though this is probably my least favorite ENSLAVED album, it is by no means a five star example of suckdom. But neither is it one you will want to impregnate your iPod for the rest of your days. It is just OK. Nothing less, nothing more.

I think i nailed it with my black metal drummers critique on my review of "Eld." They are essentially the backbone of everything black metal. Once again we have a change of guard on the drumming duties and we have an exit stage right (Heavens to Murgatroyd) from Harald Helgeson and is replaced by Dirge Rep (Per Husebø). There is a noticeable quality issue going on here. BLODHEMN just doesn't seem as innovative, as tight nor as entertaining as any release prior or following, thus IMHO the nadir of ENSLAVED's career, but keep in mind, this is ENSLAVED we're talking about and even the lowest they can dip is still enough to float a ship. My least favorite album of theirs and probably the least that i go back to but this is by no means bad. Just not outstanding.

We can basically think of BLODSHEMN as the album where ENSLAVED got cold feet dipping into progressive waters and freaked friggin' out and retreated back to black metal central. Yes, all the attributes of "Eld" still find their way on BODSHEMN but other than the typical second wave black metal a la Darkthrone on board here, the other aspects that were progressing the band have become subdued and overpowered, therefore unlike the previous album, this one seems totally UNbalanced . It is mostly a highly aggressive black metal attack with previous elements thrown in willy-nilly.

However, just as i start to feel this album is a total washout it redeems itself at the end. We get more clean vocal monk chanting, we get more folky distractions, we get more, well progressive leanings. ENSLAVED redeems themselves with BLODSHEMN by the time we finish this album but at the cost of the album feeling very rushed or mal-conceived or just not up to par with what came before and definitely not with what came after. So in short, BLODSHEMN is a nice follow up to "Eld" focusing on their Viking metal stance and all but just doesn't quite cut the mustard in the progressive department. After all, they up their own ante many times and started a trend that they suddenly got all weirded out about, but have no fear! After this album things only get better. Much better in fact. While i find this the least enchanting ENSLAVED album in their discography is still so worth having. I mean how can you own all the rest and have this deleted from the collection?!! Seriously, bad in comparison to other ENSLAVED albums but still pretty good on the world's stage. 3.5 rounded down

 Isa by ENSLAVED album cover Studio Album, 2004
4.17 | 194 ratings

Enslaved Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by EMLonergan

2 stars Oddly I find that this album does not live up to the same standards of the other Enslaved albums from Monumension onward. In my opinion there is one stellar track - Bounded by Allegiance and one good track - Return to Yggdrasil. In fact these together are good enough to warrant this as necessary listening to any fan of progressive black/death metal. Neogenesis has some good moments. But for some reason I don't find the other ones particularly entertaining. Their riffs seem rather stale, and there isn't as much rhythmic or melodic inventiveness in comparison to other albums like Ruun. The sounds on this record is softer, more accessible, and reminiscent of Opeth. But instead of capturing Opeth's brilliance, they end up sacrificing their own individuality in favor of a cheap replica of something they haven't quite mastered.
 Eld by ENSLAVED album cover Studio Album, 1997
3.70 | 52 ratings

Enslaved Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

4 stars Starting out with a lengthy non-metal intro encapsulates the very essence of ENSLAVED's career on their third full length album ELD as does the entirety of the opening track "793 (Slaget Om Lindisfarne)" or in English "793 (The Battle Of Lindisfarne.)" The slightly over sixteen minute track displays another step in the continuing evolutionary step in this band's sound and a snapshot to a rung on their ladder up to the progressive heights they would reach with their 21st century releases. ELD may well be a subordinate release in the shadow of their more famous debut "Vikingligr Veldi" and their series of progressive behemoths beginning with "Monumension," but don't doubt for a minute that ENSLAVED weren't capable of extremely enthralling progressiveness in the form of Viking black metal on all their albums in between. This band just really knew how to blend a plethora of elements together in all the right ways to create captivating music. ELD is certainly no exception to this trend.

One of the first differences i notice on ELD in contrast to the previous album "Frost" is the drumming and as it turns out there has been a change of the guard in this department. On "Frost" we were graced with the talents of none other than black metal pioneer and band hopper Trym Torson (Emperor, Imperium, Zyklon etc) and on this release we hear Harald Helgeson taking up the duties. Although his drumming skills aren't as proficient and aggressive as Torson, he is definitely able to get the job done and in a way that really suits the music. His style is noticeably different though and drumming styles are key differentiators in the metal world. However, like any good band should, everyone adapts to all the musicians on board, hence the reason why there is really no less than really good ENSLAVED album.

This album is just chock full of satisfying musical ideas. While the main focus is on second wave black metal and all the fury, raspy vocals and blastbeats that ensue, there is so much more on board here. Right from the symphonic intro we encounter everything from thrashy riffing, traditional metal rhythms and progressive time sigs that while not a mainstay at this point introduce themselves periodically and in just the right places to make this album feel very balanced. And also while the vocals are mostly placed in the aggressive raspy second wave black metal style, there is more attention placed on the clean monastery monk chants that will find their way into more extensive use on future releases. These chants while not dominant are nonetheless quite satisfying in the contrast. Possibly an inspiration from early Ulver? I would bet so.

For me ELD is another winner of an album. Since it is firmly rooted in the most extreme of black metal of the 90s, this will mostly appeal to fans of that style but there is a clear continuation of the progressive tendencies offered on the debut album while retaining the black metal dominance of the second. ENSLAVED are masters of simply ratcheting up their style and evolution little by little on each album and not really deviating significantly from what came before. While some may find their black metal focused albums more satisfying and some may lean towards the progressive one, it must be understood that they simply use both of these styles as a duality and only change the formula of how much each dominates. For me i really love both styles. Each album has a different ratio of how much each element is present and personally i love each and every possible combination with ELD being no exception. Album number three and just as satisfying as the first two. Not a great band in the making, but a great band already made.

 In Times by ENSLAVED album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.77 | 59 ratings

In Times
Enslaved Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars "In Times" is the 13th full-length studio album by Norwegian progressive extreme metal act Enslaved. The album was released through Nuclear Blast Records in March 2015. Enslaved has for the last many albums had a steady touring/recording cycle of two years between studio albums, but "RIITIIR (2012)" was quite the successful release for the band, and they have toured heavily in suppport of the album, so the recording break was a bit longer this time around.

It hasn't resulted in a rushed album written under pressure though as "In Times" comes off exactly as well written and detailed as any other album released by Enslaved. Compared to it's predecessor "In Times" features a few more black metal oriented sections (though not a dominant part of the album), but other than that it's pretty much a natural sounding successor to "RIITIIR (2012)". So the music style is still epic sounding progressive oriented black metal with norse mythology/viking themed lyrics. The songwriting is generally of a very high quality with relatively harsh black metal sections (especially the opening track "Thurisaz Dreaming" features some pretty raw and fast-paced black metal sections) seamlessly intertwined with progressive rock/metal parts, and mid-paced epic metal sections. Keyboards, synths, mellotron, heavy riffs, tremolo picking, melodic guitar solos, clean/harsh vocals (and a few viking chants), and good rhythmic variation are some of the elements which make up the music. The tracks feature natural progressions, which never sound forced or calculated, and that's a great strength when writing and playing music as progressive inclined as this. By now Enslaved masters this art to perfection.

"In Times" features 6 tracks and a full playing time of 53:05 minutes. All 6 tracks are around 8-9 minutes long and in the case of the title track nearly 11 minutes long, so all tracks are given room to breathe and time to develop. Again this doesn't sound calculated but sounds more like it's a question of where the compositions led the band while they were writing them. The adventurous and playful approach to writing material is also reflected in the obvious passion behind the delivery. It's hard to single out any particular tracks as highlights, as they are all great in their own right, but I'd still like to give a special mention to "Building with Fire", which is an unusually melodic track, with a soaring and easily memorable melody line in the clean sung vers. The melodic vers is complimented perfectly by the relatively brutal chorus featuring growling vocals, which provide the music with a death metal touch. The epic title track deserves a mention too as a highlight.

"In Times" features an organic, powerful, and overall very well sounding production. A perfect match for the music, and upon conclusion "In Times" is a high quality release on just about every measurable parameter. Despite the progressive nature of the music, it's an album which feels slightly more predictable than it's predecessor though and in the end I'm not left as surprised as I was when I first listened to "RIITIIR (2012)". That doesn't make "In Times" an inferior release to "RIITIIR (2012)", but the surprise element, which often means an artist has developed their sound a bit more than usual between albums, and which sometimes elevates an album from being brilliant to being a masterpiece creation, isn't present on "In Times". Quality wise it's just as great as "RIITIIR (2012)" though and fans of the sound on that album will probably greatly appreciate the sound and music style on "In Times". A 4.5 star (90%) rating is fully deserved.

 In Times by ENSLAVED album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.77 | 59 ratings

In Times
Enslaved Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Nightfly
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Not being much of a fan of Black Metal I didn't pay a lot of attention to Enslaved's earlier albums, the earliest one in my collection being 2004's Isa. As good an album as that is, to my ears they have got better and better on each subsequent release as the prog quotient has increased to the highpoint of 2012's Riitiir. In Times has a similar lush production to Riitiir but with just 6 tracks they have upped the prog elements even more.

Despite the prog elements Enslaved have still managed to not lose sight of their black metal roots as opener Thurisaz Dreaming certainly demonstrates coming straight in with frantic blastbeats and bassist Grutle Kjellson rasping black metal vocal style. Like the entire album the vocals alternate between Kjellson and keyboard player Herbrand Larsen's cleaner vocal style which has improved greatly over recent releases.

While there are lighter moments black metal fans will be pleased to know that In Times contains some of the most brutal music I've heard from Enslaved, the dynamics of the songs giving the heavier sections even greater impact. The rich production does the music justice, so much better than the thin weedy sound of much black metal, the brutal riffing complimented by the lush keyboard textures. The songs twist and turn through numerous inventive changes keeping it all fresh and captivating, the eleven minute title track being particularly effective.

Fans of extreme prog metal are going to snap this one up and the bar has been set for prog metal album of the year. As usual with this kind of stuff in the prog community the stumbling block for many will be the harsh black metal vocals. If you can get over that however In Times is a stunning album that will reward with repeated listens, quite possibly their best yet. Perhaps it's now time for me to start investigating those earlier Enslaved albums.

 Frost by ENSLAVED album cover Studio Album, 1994
3.47 | 58 ratings

Enslaved Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

4 stars Right from the getgo ENSLAVED were reinventing their sound as evidenced by the extreme change from their debut "Vikingligr Veldi" with its long and hypnotic black metal synthesized fury into the more standard second wave black metal on FROST that encompasses a more traditional aggressive sound that can be heard in the likes of Darkthrone and Emperor. The music here has also taken a leap in the progressiveness. Although the tracks are more aggressive and attempt to blend into the second wave of black metal more, it is also a step up from the debut album in how ENSLAVED can simultaneously blend in and blend out. Once again this unique band is proving that it is anything but the norm.

On FROST we get a more furious black metal approach with the inclusion of synthesized interludes and folk offerings to boot. The chord progressions are upped on the progometer as is the enjoyment factor. This second offering took me a little longer than most to appreciate because of the fact i got into ENSLAVED well after this was released, but as a rabid fan of the black metal scene i am quite enthralled by the prowess of delivery on this one. True it may not have hit me upon first listen and actually took longer than any ENSLAVED release to leave its impression but one day i suddenly found myself really in admiration of the musical delivery heard here.

Although ENSLAVED have been more known and appreciated for their prog adventures in the black metal world, it is here on FROST where the full fury of black metal can be heard with Trym Torson who is better known with Emperor is on full display with his percussive fury adding the depth of bombast that makes this album oh so satisfying. At this stage ENSLAVED were still very much into their primeval Viking metal that even then set them apart from other Viking metal bands that tended to dwell in the death metal camp. Any way you slice it, this is a decent and satisfying black metal release that early on proved that ENSLAVED were quite capable of delivering a new approach on every single album, albeit not fully realized until the 2000s. Perhaps one of my lesser favorite releases but it seems to me that every release in this prolific band's discography is essential.

 Vikingligr Veldi by ENSLAVED album cover Studio Album, 1994
3.55 | 60 ratings

Vikingligr Veldi
Enslaved Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

4 stars ENSLAVED set themselves apart from the rest of the black metal pack right from the getgo and continued to do so with their debut full-length release VIKINGLIGR VELDI. As the title suggests this is Viking metal in lyrical content while existing in the black metal realm musically. The lyrics are mostly in Icelandic (very closely related to Old Norse) and the lyrics of "Heimdalir" are actually in ancient Norwegian, however this IS black metal and even if you speak the languages I would be surprised if you could discern any intelligible meaning from the shrieks and grunts and tortured utterings if you spent the rest of your life trying to do so.

As with their EP "Hordanes Land" the album kicks off with a catchy little keyboard riff that remains the backbone of a massive fury of black metal madness. Although this debut is not totally in the progressive black metal realms that would fully unfold on "Monumension" it is clear by the track times here that the band were carving out a path where they could follow allowing them to unfold their ideas into a more progressive atmosphere. The first track clocks in at 11:31 and despite the band's progressive desires failing to fully measure up to the potential of the time-lengths, there is something of a satisfying result in that despite the ideas becoming repetitive, the keyboards are somewhat hypnotic and lull you into the groove which I find is good enough to keep me entertained. After becoming fully engrossed in it after a while, they suddenly change it up a bit and take you for another hypnotic spin. There are changes but they are subtle despite the aggressive fury occupying every measure and note.

With only five tracks that add up to almost 51 minutes of music, it is clear that ENSLAVED were interested in more sophisticated music than many of the second wave black metal artists. There is however much in common with those acts. The keyboard tracks remind me a lot of Emperor (in fact Tym Torson who plays drums here was in both bands), while the most aggressive ones of Darkthrone. Their sound, although somewhat unique, still sounds very much rooted in the black metal of the early 90s. It would take a few albums for them to really blossom into the totally unique act that they would become. I actually didn't like this album a whole lot upon first listen but after many listens it grew on me and it allowed me to pick up on the subtleties that don't really slap you in the face at first. The music satisfies all those primeval black metal needs but also has a bit more to it. I have grown to like this album more than I thought I ever would and there is a true feel of potential present here even though it hasn't been fully unleashed at this point.

Thanks to Bryan for the artist addition. and to Fitzcarraldo for the last updates

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