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ENSLAVED

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal • Norway


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Enslaved biography
Formed in 1991 by a 17 year old Grutle Kjellson and a 13 year old Ivar Bj°rnson (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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Discography:
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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ENSLAVED Videos (YouTube and more)


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RiitiirRiitiir
Nuclear Blast Americ 2012
Audio CD$5.75
$0.96 (used)
Axioma Ethica OdiniAxioma Ethica Odini
Nuclear Blast America 2010
Audio CD$4.84
$4.50 (used)
VertebraeVertebrae
Nuclear Blast Americ 2008
Audio CD$4.17
$5.00 (used)
FrostFrost
Season of Mist 2008
Audio CD$9.90
$11.09 (used)
EldEld
Season of Mist 2008
Audio CD$13.99
$9.59 (used)
Below the LightsBelow the Lights
Import
Osmose Productions 2003
Audio CD$13.87
$10.80 (used)
IsaIsa
Candlelight 2005
Audio CD$3.75
$3.90 (used)
Vikingligr Veldi & Hordanes LandVikingligr Veldi & Hordanes Land
Candlelight 2004
Audio CD$12.41
$10.80 (used)
RuunRuun
Import
Imports 2008
Audio CD$8.19
$9.98 (used)
BlodhemnBlodhemn
Season of Mist 2008
Audio CD$9.79
$7.95 (used)
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More places to buy ENSLAVED music online Buy ENSLAVED & Prog Rock Digital Music online:
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ENSLAVED shows & tickets


  • Fall Of Summer Festival 2014 on 5 Sep 2014
  • Eidsivablot on 13 Sep 2014
  • Roadburn Festival 2015 on 9 Apr 2015

ENSLAVED discography


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

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

3.46 | 43 ratings
Vikingligr Veldi
1994
3.36 | 42 ratings
Frost
1994
3.41 | 38 ratings
Eld
1997
3.21 | 32 ratings
Blodhemn
1998
3.55 | 47 ratings
Mardraum: Beyond the Within
2000
3.93 | 47 ratings
Monumension
2001
4.05 | 75 ratings
Below The Lights
2003
4.14 | 163 ratings
Isa
2004
3.96 | 95 ratings
Ruun
2006
4.01 | 102 ratings
Vertebrae
2008
4.03 | 163 ratings
Axioma Ethica Odini
2010
3.93 | 181 ratings
Riitiir
2012

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
2003
4.67 | 6 ratings
Return to Yggdrasill
2005

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)

1.45 | 3 ratings
Nema
1991
2.47 | 6 ratings
Yggdrasill
1992
2.95 | 11 ratings
Hordanes Land
1993
4.50 | 6 ratings
Emperor / Hordanes Land split CD
1993
3.12 | 16 ratings
The Sleeping Gods
2011
3.08 | 9 ratings
Thorn
2011

ENSLAVED Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Emperor / Hordanes Land split CD by ENSLAVED album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1993
4.50 | 6 ratings

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

Review by siLLy puPPy

4 stars

EMPEROR

This debut EP by EMPEROR was originally released as a split album with Enslaved's debut EP Hordanes Land but has since been remastered and released independently and together with the demo "Wrath Of The Tyrant." On this release Ygg changed his name to the more familiar Ihsahn and Faust made his debut delivering us to evil with his impressive drumming skills. This would be the last effort for Mortiis who would jump ship only to pursue his dark ambient musical fetish.

On this debut EP by the mighty EMPEROR we hear the transition from the muddy live wire demo band to the in-transit zone between death, thrash and the second wave of black metal but starting here we get a more smoothed out madness with an atmospheric keyboard backing. The music is just as intense and brutal but the symphonic backing adds a rather calming feel that makes this seem a little less startling and less like it was recorded in the depths of hell than the previous demo. The real proof is by listening to the two tracks which appeared on the demo and were re-recorded for this EP. Those two tracks being "Wrath of the Tyrant" and "Night of the Graveless Souls." It's easy to hear how the full debut album "In The Nightshade Eclipse" picks up from here. This is a satisfying four song interlude in their discography that shouldn't be ignored.

ENSLAVED

ENSLAVED's first official release HORDANES LAND came out as an EP just a year after their 2nd demo "Yggdrasill." It was released independently at first and then a few weeks later also as a split with the first Emperor EP. I have the remastered edition that was released in 2004 with the debut album "Vikingligr Veldi." The lineup is the same with the two founders Ivar Bj°rnson on guitar, keyboards and vocals and Grutle Kjellson handling bass. Trym Torson is still on board on drums.

There has been a major leap in songwriting on this first release as the three tracks are much more varied and complex than the demos. The track "Allfß­r O­inn" which is included on this EP was the strongest and most progressive on "Yggdrasill" and the band recognized that and used it as the template for their further evolution down the path of ever more progressive black metal. Already at this stage they have a unique sound that despite keeping the basics of second wave black metal in tact, they offer a whole variety of ideas that is layered upon it.

From the opening track "Slaget..." that offers a somewhat artificial sounding choral chant we get a strange keyboard progression that is actually quite catchy and succeeds in overpowering a brutal buzzsaw wall-of-sound with the typical black metal style of shrieks and growls for vocals. The track also shows a much more epic approach in the music as it is divided into three distinct acts and just creeps over the 13 minute mark. In addition to brutal black metal parts there are slow sections that even have classical acoustic guitar sections in the mix. The other two tracks are no less brutal in their delivery, catchy in their hooks or progressive in their developments. They both are well over the 7 minute mark.

The production is still lo-fi but not as so as on the demos. I find myself listening to this EP a lot for although it lacks the complexity of 21st century releases by the band, it is a satisfying listen that is interesting for its own sake as well as putting the band's history in some sort of context. I enjoy this early period of ENSLAVED just as much as the later releases. This is a surprisingly well crafted musical experience and this is only the band's first release. It demonstrates that the band not only mastered the brutality of black metal but that they could also adapt it to include some truly interesting and diverse elements. For me this is beyond for collector's only and I highly recommend this.

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 Hordanes Land by ENSLAVED album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1993
2.95 | 11 ratings

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Hordanes Land
Enslaved Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy

4 stars ENSLAVED's first official release HORDANES LAND came out as an EP just a year after their 2nd demo "Yggdrasill." It was released independently at first and then a few weeks later also as a split with the first Emperor EP. I have the remastered edition that was released in 2004 with the debut album "Vikingligr Veldi." The lineup is the same with the two founders Ivar Bj°rnson on guitar, keyboards and vocals and Grutle Kjellson handling bass. Trym Torson is still on board on drums.

There has been a major leap in songwriting on this first release as the three tracks are much more varied and complex than the demos. The track "Allfß­r O­inn" which is included on this EP was the strongest and most progressive on "Yggdrasill" and the band recognized that and used it as the template for their further evolution down the path of ever more progressive black metal. Already at this stage they have a unique sound that despite keeping the basics of second wave black metal in tact, they offer a whole variety of ideas that is layered upon it.

From the opening track "Slaget..." that offers a somewhat artificial sounding choral chant we get a strange keyboard progression that is actually quite catchy and succeeds in overpowering a brutal buzzsaw wall-of-sound with the typical black metal style of shrieks and growls for vocals. The track also shows a much more epic approach in the music as it is divided into three distinct acts and just creeps over the 13 minute mark. In addition to brutal black metal parts there are slow sections that even have classical acoustic guitar sections in the mix. The other two tracks are no less brutal in their delivery, catchy in their hooks or progressive in their developments. They both are well over the 7 minute mark.

The production is still lo-fi but not as so as on the demos. I find myself listening to this EP a lot for although it lacks the complexity of 21st century releases by the band, it is a satisfying listen that is interesting for its own sake as well as putting the band's history in some sort of context. I enjoy this early period of ENSLAVED just as much as the later releases. This is a surprisingly well crafted musical experience and this is only the band's first release. It demonstrates that the band not only mastered the brutality of black metal but that they could also adapt it to include some truly interesting and diverse elements. For me this is beyond for collector's only and I highly recommend this.

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 Yggdrasill by ENSLAVED album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1992
2.47 | 6 ratings

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Yggdrasill
Enslaved Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy

3 stars ENSLAVED made a steady progress from their debut demo "Nema" to their 2nd demo YGGDRASILL. On this release it is clear that the band was setting themselves apart from the rest of the second wave black metal pack by not only adding more progressiveness to their music but by focusing their lyrical content on their Norwegian Viking heritage instead of the majority of other black metal bands of the day who were more interested in attacking Christianity and the rest of the world at large. The title YGGDRASILL in fact refers to an immense tree in Norse cosmology which represents the existence of nine different worlds. Unfortunately all lyrics are in Norwegian and they could be singing about inflatable life rafts as far as I know.

This release is very much second wave black metal with extreme aggression, lo-fi production and all the usual shrieks and growls and blastbeats and buzzsaw tremolo guitar work. On the progressive front most songs are much longer with four out of six hitting the six minute mark. The addition of keyboards is more prominent and the song structures have incorporated interesting changes that display a clearer view of the path the band was embarking upon. The track "Allfß­r O­inn" is so good that the band included it on their first officially released EP "Hordanes Land." This demo shows a mature songwriting that is quite impressive for these young musicians who were paving their own way very early in the black metal game. I suspect the production will scare off many but I have a hi-tolerance for lo-fi and enjoy this release more than "Nema."

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 Nema by ENSLAVED album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1991
1.45 | 3 ratings

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Nema
Enslaved Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy

2 stars As a lover of both black metal and progressive music I find the combination of the two very exciting and few bands have consistently been as adept at putting those two worlds together than ENSLAVED has done with their vast canon and throughout all these decades they haven't released one uninteresting album. I find it fascinating to dig deep into the vaults of such a band's history to experience the origins of such a unique musical force and one cannot dig any deeper than their first demo NEMA which was released the same year the band officially formed.

On this very first release from ENSLAVED we find the two founding members Ivar Bj°rnson and Grutle Kjellson, then only 13 and 17 years old hooking up with Trym Torson who would go on to join Emperor. This is definitely one for the collector's and hard core fans only, of which I am one. The music on here is very lo-fi and very basic second wave black metal, however despite these tracks being light-years away from albums like "Monumension" and "Riitiir," there are small signs of nascent progressiveness in the mix. Even at this early stage ENSLAVED had a good sense of the dynamics of shifting through different styles to keep it interesting. The opening and closing tracks are even a bit ambient. All in all a display of potential but probably not something most fans will rush to seek out.

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 Axioma Ethica Odini by ENSLAVED album cover Studio Album, 2010
4.03 | 163 ratings

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Axioma Ethica Odini
Enslaved Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Axioma Ethica Odini finds Enslaved in the process of incorporating a higher proportion of black metal venom into their sound, after previous releases had downplayed that side of their music in order to further develop their progressive metal tendencies. The end result is a vicious progressive black metal trip which I consider to be their best album since Monumension, and certainly laid the stage for the excellent RIITIIR which followed. In fact, I'd be hard-pressed to pick a favourite between the two, but on balance I would say that this one just barely has the edge, if only for the incredible use of clean and bestial vocals.

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 Monumension by ENSLAVED album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.93 | 47 ratings

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Monumension
Enslaved Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Following the dabblings in progressive influences on the preceding Mardraum, Monumension finds Enslaved diving head-first into the prog-black metal direction which they've persisted in to this day, with marvelous results. It would not be too much of a stretch to suggest that all their subsequent studio albums have essentially been refinements and embellishments on the advances made here - and that's no bad thing, because the musical universe they open up here (spanning the full distance from prog metal to black metal) contains near-endless variety.

Aside from the tacked-on bonus track Sigmundskvadet (which isn't so much as an Enslaved track as a HOV track with the members of Enslaved joining in with the choir), the album is presented entirely in English, representing a decisive shift from the all-Vikings-all-the-time stylings of earlier Enslaved and opening up new thematic dimensions for the band. The album as a whole is a fabulous accomplishment and deserves to be in any prog metal or black metal collection.

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 Riitiir by ENSLAVED album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.93 | 181 ratings

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Riitiir
Enslaved Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars This is the first ENSLAVED album i've heard and it's in no small way because of the slew of 5 star reviews i've seen over the last few months. Some might think i'm crazy but this band sounds to me like a combination of AGALLOCH and OPETH. OPETH during the clean vocal parts where the music reminds a little of "Blackwater Park" and AGALLOCH because of the similar sounding growly vocals. Norway is the country where most of my favourite albums from 2012 come from for some reason.

"Thoughts Like Hammers" starts off heavily with a barrage of drums and sound. Then we get the main theme with growly vocals and clean vocals. Great sound before 2 minutes then the clean vocals kick back in. So good. Growls are back after 3 minutes with the clean vocals also helping out once again. Check out the calm after 5 minutes with picked guitar. Nice. It kicks back in. Another calm with spoken words this time before 6 1/2 minutes then it kicks back in. An incredible opener ! "Death In The Eyes Of Dawn" opens with a good full sound but not too heavy as the growly vocals join in. It picks up after 1 1/2 minutes with the clean vocals and growly vocals taking turns. Beautiful section before 3 minutes with clean vocals. Growls are back quickly though. Nice guitar solo 4 1/2 minutes in. Growls follow and some cool sounding guitar work. Themes are repeated.

"Veilburner" opens with an awesome instrumental display then the growls kick in after a minute. Clean vocals take over before 2 minutes as the drums pound away. We get dual vocals 3 minutes in then back to the clean vocals and prominant drums. Dual vocals again 5 minutes in. Good song but not as good as the first two tracks. "Roots Of The Mountain" opens with the lyrics being spit out with those raspy vocals. The drums pound as the guitars light it up. Clean vocals follow. A calm before 2 minutes then they let loose again. Check out the guitar after 3 minutes. An intense instrumental section kicks in before 4 minutes then the vocals return 4 1/2 minutes in. All hell breaks loose after 5 1/2 minutes. It settles back before 7 minutes with Post-Rock styled guitars. Growls a minute later. Just a killer track !

"RIITIIR" is the shortest track at 5 1/2 minutes. We get a nice uptempo intro that settles back some when the clean vocals arrive. Growls follow but they will continue to be contrasted. "Material" opens with atmosphere as the drums join in followed by a full sound. This is good. That catchy beat stops as it turns intense with those raspy vocals. Back to that beat and clean vocals as contrasts continue. "Storm Of Memories" is like a storm instrumentally with so much going on. The vocals before 3 1/2 minutes are raspy. Clean vocals take over a minute later. Growls come in at 5 1/2 minutes and last a minute when the clean vocals return. It's more intense late with raspy vocals.

"Forsaken" opens with keyboards and while one of the guys does play keys, synths and organ they are usually used to pad the sound or create atmosphere. The song kicks in with growly vocals. The synths before 4 minutes pulse which surprised me I must say. Almost electronic sounding here as the vocals, drums and guitars have all stopped. Cool ! Drums are back after 5 minutes. Growly vocals join in before 6 minutes. Great sound here with all that atmosphere in the background. A calm follows and continues with almost spoken vocals to the end. Man that is such an amazing tune and a top three for me along with "Thoughts Like Hammers" and "Death In The Eyes Of Dawn".

I don't see how OPETH fans wouldn't love this album to be honest. Maybe the best Metal album of 2012.

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 Riitiir by ENSLAVED album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.93 | 181 ratings

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Riitiir
Enslaved Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by J-Man
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Of all the bands in modern black metal, Enslaved seems to be the one that amazes me most with their ability to evolve with each new release while still remaining consistently excellent each step of the way. Beginning as a pure black metal act in the early nineties', the Norwegian collective went on to explore viking-themed metal for a few albums, until eventually settling on a more progressive-oriented style that they've been refining and experimenting with for the past decade or so. RIITIIR is the band's twelfth full-length observation, and was released in 2012 to virtually unchallenged acclaim within the metal community. Its rich and diverse blend of extreme and progressive styles of black metal makes for an album that is as heavy as it is intelligent, and a very worthy follow-up to 2010's stunning Axioma Ethica Odini. RIITIIR is a powerful, innovative, and overall killer album that may be Enslaved's finest masterwork to date. Amazing.

RIITIIR is a challenging album for those unacquainted with the more progressive side of black metal; with nearly seventy minutes of material split between only eight tracks, this is a long album that will probably require some additional attention from most listeners. Thankfully, there are lots of great melodies and epic compositions to suck you in from the first listen, and the immaculate arrangements continue to reveal their brilliance over many spins. The music draws extensively from atmospheric black metal and seventies' progressive rock, but RIITIIR rarely sounds exclusively like one or the other. The epic black metal atmospheres are blended seamlessly with complex progressive touches, leading to a sound that is both coherent and unique. Although black metal purists may cry foul at the progressive song structures, heavy use of Herbrand Larsen's clean vocals, and unorthodox riff structure, I think it's resulted in one of the most creative black metal observations in years. Plenty of desperate grunts and rasps, lightning-fast riffs, and whirlwind blastbeats assure that Enslaved's place as a black metal band is not a thing of the past, although the music heard on RIITIIR is very far removed from anything resembling 'pure' black metal.

"Thoughts Like Hammers" opens RIITIIR with a bang, with its crushing riffs and majestic melodies immediately setting the tone for the rest of the album. "Death In the Eyes of Dawn" is my personal favorite from RIITIIR; the contrast between Grutle Kjellson's demonic grunts and Herbrand Larsen's powerful clean voice is beautiful, and the atmospheres created by the keyboards are wonderfully epic. Other favorites of mine include "Roots of the Mountain", which has some of the most devastating black metal carnage that you'll hear on the whole album (as well as an excellent melodic chorus), the highly progressive "Storm of Memories" (the opening wouldn't sound out of place on a King Crimson record), and the closing track "Forsaken". This one strikes me as the most experimental track on the album, with its multiple sections and meditative ending pushing the boundaries of Enslaved's sound. And, really, that's what this entire album does - it brings Enslaved's sound into uncharted territory, and although the entire thing sounds distinctly like these Norwegian vikings, RIITIIR brings their style to new heights.

Enslaved are at the top of the extreme progressive metal world right now, and RIITIIR once again solidifies their spot as one of the genre's leading acts. It's wildly creative, flawless in its execution, and, most importantly of all, it contains some of the most memorable extreme metal I've heard in a while. RIITIIR is the sound of true musical visionaries, and all fans of epic progressive black metal deserve to hear this breathtaking masterpiece.

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 Riitiir by ENSLAVED album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.93 | 181 ratings

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Riitiir
Enslaved Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by BrufordFreak

2 stars Okay, here I go (again): Getting on my soapbox to incur the wrath and ire of fellow music lovers. sorry. I have honestly been listening to this music for over a month (though I must admit that I can only take a song or two at a time). Exactly how is this music good? Haven't you all read the books by Dr. Musaru Emoto and Alfred Tomatis and Joseph Campbell and Ram Dass: This kind of cacophony causes chaos and entropy, destruction and death! Even if I could find anything redeeming about this 'singing,' these 'vocals,' these lyrics, the music is so simplistic, so straightforward and so derivative of 70s rockers like BLUE OYSTER CULT and 90s innovator CYNIC that I don't get the grounds for all this praise! Even the Jem Godfrey/Frost* sounding "Storm of Memories" (8:57) (8/10) has a promising beginning with fewer doom/death growling (at least for the first three minutes). Unfortunately, it's all downhill from there. Machine gun drums and machine gun guitars. I just don't get it. Maybe as a caffeine or cocaine substitute this works for some people, but for what reason? Are we really that angst-ridden--that forlorn and lost--as a culture that this is the only outlet we can devise for our frustrations? I am a believer that music is an expression of highest creativity, our highest art form with which to bridge material with spiritual. This kind of music is, to my mind, a slap in the face to all the great composers, artists and creators in human history. What a shame! What a waste of talent and potential (obviously, the players can play, their minds have creative capacity. I guess I should be looking at all this entropy and chaos as the Taoist balance to all the Light and Beauty, or as Karl Jung might: Out of [&*!#] the alchemist creates gold!)

Sorry, boys. I'll take Brahms' 3rd, Satie's Gymnopedie, Renaissance's Novella, LeGrand's Pastorales de NoŰl, Bill Evans' Village Vangaurd recordings, Cocteau Twins' Tiny Dynamine, and any Baroque music over this, any day.

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 Riitiir by ENSLAVED album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.93 | 181 ratings

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Riitiir
Enslaved Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

5 stars 'RIITIIR' - Enslaved (9/10)

In almost every article about this band I've read recently, there's a repeated emphasis on how remarkably consistent Enslaved are when it comes to releasing new material. In truth, I'd tend to agree with this statement. Although I don't enjoy their Viking-styled material nearly as much as the more traditional black metal or later progressive incarnations, these guys have managed to develop and evolve with each new album, With that being said, it's no surprise that "RIITIIR" continues to embellish the band's progressive sensibilities. While previous albums "Vertebrae" and "Axioma Ethica Odini" both showcased a rich progressive black metal sound, "RIITIIR" sees them pushing their ambitious nature to new heights. In short, it's arguably the best album of their career, although I imagine most of us weren't expecting any less from them.

The musical evolution from "Axioma..." to "RIITIIR" is reserved, but noticeable. For one, these are some of the longest song structures the band has ever contended with. With most of the tracks resting around the nine minute mark, there is the strong impression that Enslaved have decided to loosen the restraints on some of their songwriting, allowing the compositions more time to develop textures and ideas. Although there remain traces of the original black metal sound, the current Enslaved shares very little in common with its older incarnations. Although some of the riffs recall the band's heritage as part of the Norwegian Second Wave, there's just as much of a drawn influence from 1970's space and psychedelic rock. If Enslaved had not already crossed this point already, it seems unfitting to label them as a black metal band now, when there's so much about them that turns its nose at the genre.

"Thoughts Like Hammers" is the opening track and pre-released 'sneak preview' fans had of "RIITIIR" before the album was released. At nine and a half minutes long, it is filled with meaty riffs and familiar atmosphere, boosted by a unconventional song structure and several mood changes. Although Enslaved have done this sort of thing before, it feels most natural with "RIITIIR". The powerful highlight "Death in the Eyes of Dawn" and majestic "Roots of the Mountain" both showcase an affinity with vocal melodies. Although the clean vocals have not always been a 'high point' with Enslaved, Herbrand Larsen's voice has never sounded better. Thanks to Iver Sand°y's suggestion to branch out into a 'live reocrding' style, Enslaved's production has never sounded warmer or better suited for their progressive sound. A somewhat mechanical sound of production was something I had long felt held back some of Enslaved's more recent material, but the issue is cured in full on "RIITIIR". There are details in the performance and arrangement that will reward attentive listeners.

Although "RIITIIR" does not disappoint on any level, there is the sense that the album's second half is not quite as engaging as the first. Up to and including "Roots of the Mountain", there is not a second of filler; particularly in the way "Thoughts Like Hammers" and "Death in the Eyes of Dawn" cope with structure, the ways the musical ideas are organized is close to perfection. The less ambitious title track and "Storm of Memories" are less concerned with this optimal usage of time however. The performance is kept up to an incredible par throughout the album, but certain musical ideas eel dragged out longer than they should have been, as if to keep up with the 'extended song structure' approach. Especially keeping in mind that much of the album manages to achieve that long-sought for perfection, it's disappointing that the album is given a somewhat anti-climactic end. Although "Forsaken" opens on one of the album's highest points, the final four minutes of the album are left for a quiet, repetitive guitar idea, akin to something Neurosis might do. I think it could have worked well as a denouement to an otherwise intense and complex listening experience, but it's drawn out past the limit where it would have worked best.

"RIITIIR" is certainly the best Enslaved have ever sounded, with a production and performance standard rivaled by virtually none in their style. The decision to further explore the progressive realm has worked very well, employing use of some of the vintage 70's sounds while sounding as musically relevant as ever. With that in mind, I'm still not sure if I prefer this over "Vertebrae" or "Axioma Ethica Odini". Although some aspects of the band have been finally boosted to perfection, there are times when a more concise approach would have worked better. Regardless, Enslaved have brought the spirit of the classic progressive rock album to extreme metal, and done it in such a way that it will be surprising if people aren't still talking about it years from now. If Opeth's attempt to crossover fully into the prog realm with "Heritage" was only an ambivalent success, Enslaved have achieved a 'vintage' sound without losing any bit of what made them excellent in the first place.

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