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Enslaved - Utgard CD (album) cover




Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

3.96 | 55 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

5 stars 4.6 About 30 years later, Enslaved keep surprising us. Even if they've found a formula and a signature (Ivar Bj'rnson's production, distortion and riffing, and Grutle Kjellson's demonic screams aren't deceiving about that), it cannot be said that 'RIITIIR' (2012) is the same as 'Vertebrae' (2008) and much less that 'Utgard' is a continuation to 'E'.

With a broader and less complex approach than the one presented in 'E', this can be, and should be, related to the concept behind 'Utgard' since it deals with the realm of dreams, where giants dwell and gods don't rule. However, this amplitude and liberation generate a multitude of immersive riffs ('Homebound') that create an enveloping and attractive atmosphere, a seductive device to enter the realm of the subconscious.

After a Nordic chant in the opener 'Fires in the Dark', Enslaved are really starting to provide evidence that they want to bring the lyrical and intellectual concept to the music itself with 'Jettegryta'. Much more than just mythology, even touching fields of psychology, tracks like these send abysmal sensations, all between peaks and valleys, an insane roller coaster that proves how good Enslaved are in building landscapes via sound.

And because I must justify why the band keeps surprising us, Enslaved's passion for psychedelic rock is unmistakable because of the keyboards, but especially because of the electronics on 'Urjotun', an unusual track in Enslaved's spectrum which has a post-punk drive and pays homage to bands like Kraftwerk and Hawkwind. Further on, with 'Storms of Utgard', there's still room and time for a Pink Floyd-ish solo, which, for the most attentive, is something less rare in Enslaved albums.

Over 44 minutes, these Nordics show us the ability to create progressive music in 4-6 minutes, in which the structures are different from each other, either with calmer parts with acoustic guitar or with robust avalanches of sound that bury us without warning, thus creating an experience of different sensations in a few, but intense, minutes.

Amidst this sensory whirlwind, which is heavy and tortuous, there's also a beautiful dichotomy between growls and clean vocals - the screams being related to the black metal side and the clean vocals to the melodic and progressive metal -, something that's not only discovered with vocals but also because of the way the songs sound in each part: while the most extreme wing is cohesive, tight and fast, the melodic parts are more broad and friendly, and it's perhaps in this field that Enslaved best show their technical skills because they necessarily have more room to dedicate themselves to detail.

In short, as much as 'Utgard' can be said to be a less complex record, the truth is that it's full of background atmospheres supported by keyboards and orchestrations created to give a very muscular body to a set of grandly atmospheric songs. Final challenge for those who are about to listen to 'Utgard': Enslaved don't know how to make bad music.

ironman2002 | 5/5 |


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