Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
Enslaved - Heimdal CD (album) cover




Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

3.93 | 31 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

siLLy puPPy
Special Collaborator
PSIKE, JRF/Canterbury, P Metal, Eclectic
4 stars ENSLAVED seems to have achieved a sort of metal immortality having survived the battle field for over three decades now and consistently releasing one quality album after another with no end in site. The band is back three years after "Utgard" for another black / Viking / progressive metal adventure with another interesting and unique variation on the progressive black metal sounds that have been churning about since 2001's "Monumension." HEIMDAL is the sixteenth album from this Norwegian metal powerhouse and the title refers to a god in Norse mythology who is the son of Odin and nine mothers. Now how exactly does that work? Those crazy Scandinavians!

This album features six brand spanking new tracks and the title track of the "Caravans To The Outer Worlds" EP which served as a holding place between "Utgard" and HEIMDAL. The album clocks in at 48 minutes plus and features a more beefed up black metal heft after the folk fueled "Utgard." In fact in many ways HEIMDAL echoes back to the early 2000s sounding as if it was crafted somewhere between "Below The Lights" and "Isa." For any diehard fan of ENSLAVED, this album won't exactly take you somewhere completely new but rather does what virtually every ENSLAVED album exceeds at and that would be taking you on a familiar musical ride that continues the progressive black metal paradigm of the last 20 years and offers new twists and turns.

In the case of HEIMDAL we get a mix of crushing black metal guitar riffing, Grutle Kjellson's expected raspy enunciations with the contrasting shift into clean vocals as well as a spooky atmospheric backdrop that offers some very tripped out psychedelic keyboard parts from time to time. On the proggy side of the equation HEIMDAL offers the usual interesting compositional constructs with several tracks sailing beyond the 7-minute mark with the closing title track being the longest. Still sounding like no other band on the scene, HEIMDAL chugs along with the usual black metal bombast all teased out with extended progressive expansiveness including the occasional clean vocal led acoustic strum-a-thon that makes me consider a bit of a Viking interpretation of Pink Floyd.

Perhaps the most glaring differentiation from previous works is the use of keyboards which offers some interesting contrapuntal contrasts to the usual black metal and mellower clean vocal segments. Sometimes they are straight out of the 60s psychedelic rock playbook only set to the thundering roar of Norwegian mythological narrations. Another feature that i'm not remembering very prominent in previous ENSLAVED albums is the use of call and response in the form of an all male beauty and beast tradeoff with raspy utterances ceding to clean vocal tenderness and back again. Having well kept up with 21st century standards ENSLAVED continues to imbue a stellar production job that allows all the musical motifs to shine like a diamond in the rough.

Perhaps one could accuse of ENSLAVED of playing it safe and not taking any major risks but it is quite common for well established bands to deviate from their formula only to lose their fanbase and never really recover. ENSLAVED has navigated the turbulent waters of the decades by playing its cards strategically and by offering a familiar sound while changing things up enough to keep things from being a cookie cutter approach. In other words ENSLAVED is in it for the long haul and with 16 studio albums, 4 EPs and 32 years in existence, it seems this band is in no danger of burning out any time soon and continues to releases satisfying and enthralling albums. HEIMDAL is no exception to this rule and although i was a bit underwhelmed upon first listen, a few more spins has revealed new angles to perceive. Another winner for ENSLAVED.

siLLy puPPy | 4/5 |


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Share this ENSLAVED review

Social review comments () BETA

Review related links

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives

Donate monthly and keep PA fast-loading and ad-free forever.