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Tech/Extreme Prog Metal • Norway

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Enslaved picture
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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Nuclear Blast America 2017
Audio CD$9.64
$10.35 (used)
In Times cdIn Times cd
Nuclear Blast America 2015
Audio CD$7.20
$11.29 (used)
Monumension (Ltd. Ed. splatter vinyl Lp)Monumension (Ltd. Ed. splatter vinyl Lp)
Limited Edition
Osmose Records 2017
Import · Limited Edition
$31.29 (used)
Season of Mist 2008
Audio CD$11.61
$7.00 (used)
Candlelight 2006
Audio CD$59.99
$6.04 (used)
Roadburn LiveRoadburn Live
Audio CD$10.88
$9.84 (used)
Candlelight 2005
Audio CD$4.07
$4.77 (used)
Vertebrae - Limited 2 CD Box SetVertebrae - Limited 2 CD Box Set
Indie UK 2009
Audio CD$12.38
$14.44 (used)
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Isa by Enslaved (CD, Feb-2005, Candlelight Records) USD $5.90 [0 bids]
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Enslaved - Frost / TH Cassette USD $19.99 Buy It Now 3 days
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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)

3.56 | 63 ratings
Vikingligr Veldi
3.49 | 60 ratings
3.75 | 57 ratings
3.33 | 47 ratings
3.77 | 57 ratings
Mardraum: Beyond the Within
4.07 | 66 ratings
4.24 | 101 ratings
Below The Lights
4.17 | 199 ratings
4.00 | 116 ratings
4.07 | 120 ratings
4.04 | 192 ratings
Axioma Ethica Odini
3.88 | 198 ratings
3.77 | 67 ratings
In Times
4.10 | 10 ratings

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

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

4.50 | 4 ratings
Live Retaliation
4.71 | 7 ratings
Return to Yggdrasill

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

3.83 | 6 ratings
The Sleeping Gods

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

1.72 | 7 ratings
2.62 | 9 ratings
3.09 | 16 ratings
Hordanes Land
4.16 | 10 ratings
Emperor / Hordanes Land split CD
3.23 | 24 ratings
The Sleeping Gods
3.07 | 15 ratings


Showing last 10 reviews only
 E by ENSLAVED album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.10 | 10 ratings

Enslaved Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE & JR/F/Canterbury Teams

4 stars It's always an exciting day when one of your favorite and most consistent metal bands releases an album and continues that exciting thrill of anticipation of whether they will continue their lengthy run as ambassadors of the extreme metal scene after more than two decades on the scene or the unthinkable of botching their rein and utterly teeter off that precarious precipice that they ride like a skateboarder sliding down a staircase railing. As the decade runs closer to its end Norway's ENSLAVED took only two years to craft yet another installment into their progressive black metal universe after the release of 2015's "In Times" which left more than a few loyal fans divided over exactly where they saw the band was heading next. While true that the album continued down the path of the expected quality material, there was still that lurking nagging feeling that perhaps ENSLAVED is just one tiny step away from completely derailing into pools of stagnation and ultimately becoming the feared and dreaded parodies of themselves. In 2017 the band emerge from their cocoon of secrecy and let loose their 14th full-length studio album E.

With an album title so truncated to one mere letter, it automatically triggers that WTF response and thankfully Ivar Bjørnson has explained this nebulous concept to smother any possible misconceptions in their nascency. E apparently has a dualistic meaning, firstly being a letter of the Latin alphabet but is also a reference to the rune Ehwaz which is depicted as our letter M (note both letters on album cover painted by long time associate Truis Espedal.) Ehwaz simply means horse and the relationship with humankind's most endearing animal friend that celebrates one of our longest cross-species collaborations. Once you get past all the horse symbology, the title and tracks included expand further into the symbolisms of the duality of humankind and nature as well as fear and subconscious drive all wrapped up in the expected Viking imagery constructed through poetic prose in both gurgling raspy utterances as well as clean Gregorian chant inspired harmonies that exude a beauty and beast combo effect only this is bro style.

As evidenced from the sneak peak video for the first track "Storm Son," ENSLAVED have entered new sonic arenas indeed and have once again taken all the different styles they've accumulated over their vast career and simply expanded them into new territory as if they take their Viking expansionist roots and simply apply those principles to conquering new musical territory. As E begins, i was expecting the immediate bombast of heaviness before meandering into softer passages of folky and ambience atmospheric touches but E takes a totally different approach than past offerings. This one begins with the sensual sounds of birds and the blowing of a gjallarhorn before horses whinny and clomp along insinuating a battle scene to come, however the track unexpectedly delivers a clean dreamy guitar riff that delivers the ultimate head scratcher making me wonder if these guys have pulled an Ulver on us and went post-rock or some non-metal direction as the repetitive riffs churn on augmented by an atmospheric ambience swirling around every arpeggiated note. Goodbye black metal ENSLAVED, hello progressive rockers who have always lurked beneath the noisefest. Oh, wait there's those raspy vocals on top of the clean angelic choral. (then once again the riff ratchets up in intensity but this isn't quite the metal i was expecting) as Grutle Kjellson takes the lead with his raspy evil-as-[%*!#] vocal style. As the synthesizers swirl around and the staccato guitar riffs pound on like Teutonic marches on Prussian plains it seems that ENSLAVED has gone Opeth on us and finally divorced the black metal aspects that have carried them this far into the 21st century minus those raspy vocals of course. But wait! This is progressive black metal and nothing happens too quickly in this world. Finally at seven minutes in the black metal guitars and bass kick in with synchronized drums and yeah baby! Oops, i jumped to conclusions. This is black metal for PATIENT fans :p After a rough start things seem on track once again although the atmospheric synths and staccato guitar riffs are totally uncharacteristic of the ENSLAVED sound. This band has decided to carry on into new even more progressive arenas. Will the fickle black metal fans like this? Probably not. As "The River's Mouth" takes the baton, the black metal groove is back at first but alternates substantially with the progressive metal segments that sound more like something out of a post-metal sludge band's canon than anything ENSLAVED has tackled. It doesn't take long to figure out that this is a band always looking for parameters to overstep while breaking rules and worshipping runes and on E the floodgates have opened.

Many surprises lurk on E which is of course the key ingredient (surprise that is) to keep things spiced up. For example, "Sacred Horse" begins like a hippie dippy folk track for a few seconds but then bursts into the more familiar extreme metal sound of past glories. "Axis Of The Worlds" has a very different sort of groove than the band is used to with a much more sophisticated labyrinthine and circuitous riffing methodology that ratchets up their progressive rock aspects even further and with the mellotron organ sounds that accompany may raise the red flag for a progressive pollen attack for those allergic to the world of progressive rock but somehow once again the band walks that thin line between the black and prog worlds all the while including some bizarre electronica sputtering in the background reminiscent of electropop bands like Röyksopp whose cover they tackle with the rhetorical self-directed question "What Else Is There?" "Fathers Of Eolh" is probably the most un-ENSLAVED sounding track on E with its heightened 5/4 timing sludgy riffs, ambient shoegaze backdrop and liturgical proggy vocal styles mostly delivered in a clean, clear yet turgid display of interweaving compositional parts that are laced together in various alternating ways. "Hiindslight" is yet another progressive metal behemoth that tackles hitherto unexplored arenas as it churns out complex guitar riffs that range from brutal to sensual and graced by the raspy vocals of Kjellson. This is the track that will for sure act as the sunlight that scares the black metal vampires into their coffins as it incorporates a whirlwind of progressive features including the unthinkable use of flute and saxophone. "Djupet" is another more traditional track tacked on to appease the hardcores.

You may be wondering just how progressive can they possible get. Well before you get your knickers in a twist and cry out that they've totally gone Opeth on us, it should never be forgotten that ENSLAVED was always a progressive black metal band which began with their debut album "Vikingligr Veldi" and despite tamping down the progressive qualities on their next three albums, "Frost," "Eld" and "Blodhemn" they nevertheless persisted under the surface before finally erupting once again in full pent-up fury on 2000's "Mardraum: Beyond The Within" only to have the progressive aspects outweigh the black metal from "Monumension" and the albums that followed. The fact is that unlike Opeth who utterly abandoned their extreme metal roots to focus exclusively on progressive rock, ENSLAVED never for even a single album smothered the black metal out of their overall sound. While it's true the black metal has taken a back seat to the progressive side of the coin, it's more akin to the band having a new lover move in while banishing the ex to the basement only to be chained up but kept around because she's still useful for all those chores around the house.

Yeah, the black metal may be the ugly ex-wife who is forced to perform as an indentured servant but she still has a role to play while ENSLAVED's promiscuous Hugh Hefner tendencies take on a musical libido all their own. Keep in mind that the band's name is ENSLAVED and not "Emancipated." Set free the black metal and we're left with an Age of Aquarius la-la-la singalong feel good album. Now that wouldn't be very metal now would it? While ENSLAVED has not gone Opeth on us, it can be argued they've followed in the same footsteps another fellow Norwegian and gone insanely Ihsahn on us instead. You don't believe me? For anyone who has kept up with Emperor's frantic frontman as a solo artist, you will hear lots of parallels with albums ranging from "The Adversary" to "Arktis," not only in the highly complex time signature rich riffing styles but in the addition of unorthodox metal instruments with the inclusion of flautist Daniel Mage and sax blower Kjetil Møster on the tracks "Hindsight" and "Feathers Of Eolh" and also the inclusion of fellow Norwegian Einar Kvitrafn from the Nordic dark folk outfit Wardruna. OK, i lied. There is one moment of going Opeth and that is the short use of mellotron style keyboard sounds at the end of "Sacred Horse." This is probably one of the parts of the album that doesn't exactly sound like it's at home here and i concur that this should have been aborted before birth, but we should never let a few moments of awkwardness destroy the big picture.

Ultimately i'm finding E is about contrast and tension. There are simple clean parts that are unlike anything the band has done but somehow after slowly emerging elements, the band always resolves itself with the heavier and more frantic dynamics delivering fairly balanced compositions that perhaps can carry on a wee bit too long at points but still never entering the extremities of the uncomfortableness zone. It goes without saying that ENSLAVED alienated the one-dimensional kvlter-than-thou crowds long ago when the scales tipped in the progressive metal direction and with E, the band challenges their fans once again and therefore the close-minded, musically illiterate and those who simply get complacent in a particular phase will probably piss all over this one, however if dissected like a laboratory rat in order to scrutinize the inner parts, E is actually the logical next frontier for ENSLAVED to venture into. As the band continues to mature it would be pathetic for them to linger in pastures already explored and personally i much prefer a band to delve into new arenas despite less than perfect results than stagnate in festering doldrums of inertness. E may not constitute the absolute pinnacle of the career of ENSLAVED but i'm finding this to have much more of a return value than "In Times" and offers yet another creative and excellent rung in their long ladder of musical development since their humble beginnings during the second wave of early black metal.

 Mardraum: Beyond the Within by ENSLAVED album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.77 | 57 ratings

Mardraum: Beyond the Within
Enslaved Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE & JR/F/Canterbury Teams

5 stars The last decade of the 20th century saw a major split between the strains of extreme metal that had gestated into more distinct subgenre categories at the end of the 80s. By the mid 80s, black, death, doom and progressive metal were well on their way to become fully developed subgeneres splitting off from the parents at an astonishing rate like amoebas gracefully undergoing meiosis in a petri dish. While the majority of extreme metal bands were satisfied in pigeonholing themselves into one newly found subgenre or another, others couldn't quite decide which way to proceed, so they chose more than one. The world of ENSLAVED owes a major debt to the sonic realities created by fellow Scandinavian Quorthon who under the guise of his band Bathory introduced the world to black metal and then once again moved on to the world of Viking metal which emphasized traditional Scandinavian folklore, mythology and instrumentation while eschewing the expected anti-Christian vitriol and Satanic church burning shenanigans that were plaguing the Norwegian extreme metal world in the early 90s.

Even on their debut "Vikingligr Veldi" ENSLAVED were entertaining the notion of expanding beyond the quickly ossifying expectations of subgenre conformity and although they retreated a couple steps back with their next few albums "Frost," "Eld" and "Blodhemn" that deemphasized the progressive touches in favor of more Viking themed black metal ferocity, on their fifth album MARDRAUM - BEYOND THE WITHIN, the band had a rekindling, or more accurately explosive discharge of the creative pent up energy that was captured on their debut and was ready for prime time for a new millennium unfolding. The sonic evolution heard on MARDRAUM (Norwegian for "nightmare") is not only crushing in its sonic bombast but pulverizes the status quo of subgenre categorization as it unapologetically incorporates the fiercest black metal ferocity with Viking metal themes that unfold seemingly accessible riffing styles into insanely complex beasts of progressiveness. The world of metal could hardly see one his coming.

With an opening that reminds more of the Cocteau Twins than the second wave of black metal, ENSLAVED were breaking the chains of sonic subjugation and unfurling their victory flag in the defeat of complacency. While "Større enn Tid - Tyngre enn Natt" may bring space pop to mind at first, it quickly delivers the old one, two punch of Ivar Bjørnson and Roy Kronheim's blistering dual guitar abuse and while technically dishing out the same riff, the duo usher in a totally revolutionary methodology of incorporating subtle distinctions between their counterpoints and offer a sonic storm of creative interpretations. In fact every musician involved on MARDRAUM is firing on fully fueled pistons as Grutle Kjellson pounds out unbelievable bass lines while Dirge Rep unleashes his mastery of drum abuse unlike anything heard on ENSLAVED's previous canon. MARDRAUM is in effect the heaviest album the band had done at the time and remains so to date despite offering a clairvoyant peek into the world of progressive metal that they would elucidate on future releases beginning with the followup "Monumension" which includes interludes into clean vocal folk extravaganzas as well as cleverly placed ambient wizardry. Of course the black metal raspy vocals are on full display and have never sounded as energized as they do here.

MARDRAUM can be considered a musical transubstantiation of sort in its own right for providing the bridge between the Viking themed black metal phase of ENSLAVED's long and enduring career and the progressive black metal to occur after, but more than anything MARDRAUM proves to be a pinnacle of black metal creativity at the turn of the millennium showing ENSLAVED break away from the gravitational pull of their influences and finding the free range of musical independence which MARDRAUM displays in full regalia. Although steeped in black metal buzzsaw fury with blastbeat prowess and earache inducing decibelage, this collection of eleven tracks stampedes like a cavalry of warriors on horseback laying waste to any unfortunate bystanders in their trajectory. Personally i find the millennium turnover era of ENSLAVED to be their absolute best beginning with this final chapter of their most ferocious and aggressive stage of their career and MARDRAUM delivers all the goods in an amazing and precise manner. One of, if not my favorite ENSLAVED album.

 Eld by ENSLAVED album cover Studio Album, 1997
3.75 | 57 ratings

Enslaved Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Kicking off with a 16 minute composition inspired by the Battle of Lindisfarne, Enslaved's Eld reveals that in the years since the 1994 release of their first two albums the band had not been standing still. Although they had yet to reach the progressive-black metal fusion they would perfect on later albums, prog-inspired song structures begin to play a more prominent role, and keyboards remain a significant part of their sound. Ivar Bj'rnson's stint on the first Borknagar album, which itself was in a similar viking metal vein, means that this release feels a bit like a companion piece to that one due to the aesthetic and thematic overlap.
 In Times by ENSLAVED album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.77 | 67 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
1.72 | 7 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
3.33 | 47 ratings

Enslaved Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE & JR/F/Canterbury Teams

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 | 199 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
3.75 | 57 ratings

Enslaved Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE & JR/F/Canterbury Teams

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 | 67 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.

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

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