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Enslaved - Monumension CD (album) cover



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Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "Monumension" is the 6th full-length studio album by Norwegian black metal act Enslaved. The band´s last album "Mardraum: Beyond the Within (2000)" was enjoyable to these ears but lacked the final touch to earn the excellent mark. "Monumension" pretty much continues down about the same path. With some improvement and innovation of the band´s sound though.

The music is aggressive black metal with lots of nods towards the blackened part of the eighties thrash/ heavy metal scene. bands like Celtic Frost and Possessed often comes to mind. There´s an epic element to Enslaved´s sound on "Monumension" that sets them apart from that scene though. The vocals are raspy and aggressive most of the time but guest musician Trygve Mathiesen adds some clean vocals to the tracks "Hollow Inside" and "Sigmundskvadet". There are also occassional clean vocals featured in other tracks on the album, which works great for the variation. In addition to guitars, bass and drums there are also various synths on the album courtesy of guest musician Dennis Reksten. Tracks like "Convoys to Nothingness", "Hollow Inside", "The Cromlech Gate" and "The Sleep: Floating Diversity - A Monument Part III" all feature progressive elements that give Enslaved their unique sound. The retro 70s progressive rock influence, that the band would embrace further on later releases, has begun to creep more and more into their music.

The production is powerful and aggressive.

"Monumension" is another solid effort by Enslaved. "Monumension" is, just like "Mardraum: Beyond the Within", a transitional album of sorts. The band stay rooted in their black metal past yet incorporate progressive rock elements to that sound. A 3.5 star rating is deserved. This one might get a 4 star rating in time though. I sense this could grow on me.

Report this review (#259720)
Posted Thursday, January 7, 2010 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Monumension is another impressive Enslaved album, be it a rather weird one with a very creepy atmosphere. It's an enormous step away from their black metal roots and it couldn't be more different from the fury of the preceding album Mardraum.

The music has become very experimental, incorporating uncanny organ sounds and lots of guitar effects like the chorused opening bars of the epic monster Convoys to Nothingness, a song that is still close to the previous album. The following track adds entirely different elements to the Enslaved sound. After its black metal opening, The Voices has that typical groovy Voivod-styled riff (around minute 1) that Enslaved would explore ad infinitum on the ensuing albums.

The songs have become very adventurous and unpredictable, The Sleep is a certain highlight in their new-found sound. The album ends with a strong Viking chant that they performed together with a number of guests, an occasional gathering fittingly baptized 'Tribal Choir'.

This album should fit my taste perfectly but somehow I miss something. On most listens I enjoy it, but at other times it appears studied and sought-after. The spontaneity seems to have disappeared from this music. It's a flaw the appears in varying degrees through the ensuing albums. 3.5 stars

Report this review (#264573)
Posted Saturday, February 6, 2010 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
4 stars 'Monumension' - Enslaved (74/100)

I'm torn between thinking of Enslaved's Monumension primarily as their most overlooked album, or else as "the one that sounds like Pink Floyd." In reality, it's both. Monumension seems to get a blind eye treatment even from hardcore Enslaved fans. In some ways, this underexposure makes sense. Not only was Monumension at the heart of Enslaved's rocky uplift from black metal to prog rock, it was surrounded by two bolder works, 2000's chaotic Mardraum ? Beyond the Within and the band's "best of both worlds" masterpiece Below the Lights.

While I would argue Monumension is the more coherent effort, it's always felt like a less assuming younger sibling of Mardraum. That album was the biggest leap Enslaved have ever taken creatively ? the risk of Mardraum is apparent in the urgent manner it was all pieced together. So, with that trailblazing complete, Monumension came along to bask in a more clearcut, progressive sound. Even if Monumension hadn't ended up as one of Enslaved's most temperate albums by nature, it would have had a tough time standing out in their discography.

Revisiting this album for the first time in years, I think it's actually quite the shame that Momumension is their career's kept secret. I only really remembered this album for the overt references to Roger Waters-led Pink Floyd throughout (and particularly on "Floating Diversity") but there's a lot more to Monumension than I think people give it credit for. Where Mardraum felt the slightest bit insecure about its progressive outbursts, Monumension settles down, allowing Enslaved the ability to explore prog songwriting without the same need to prove that the formula works.

As was the case with Mardraum, Enslaved still feel like they're locked somewhere in the midst of a prog labyrinth, and are trying to work their ways out so they can grasp it with a full perspective. Although the overall spacey tinge helps Monumension feel like a more coherent product, they were still at the stage where individual ideas often stood out more than the songs themselves. As highlights are concerned, "Convoys to Nothingness", "The Cromlech Gate" and especially "Floating Diversity" rank as some of the more dynamic songs these guys have done. The flangered mellowness and anxious clean vocals reminiscent of Roger Waters are what define this album compared to the others, but bolder claims that Enslaved were trying to rip off Floyd's sound in order to complete their prog transition are vastly overhyped. There's not near as much of a difference here from Mardraum. Even so, I've seen people who adore that album take a fibre-laden [&*!#] on this one, so the space rock accessorizing obviously has more of an impact than slight nods usually muster.

From a certain perspective, I think of Monumension as the eye within the storm of Enslaved's transition. Progressive rock was a part of their formula practically from day one, but that earnest transformation began on Mardraum. I'd say the new style was swiftly mastered by the point of Below the Lights, but it was only fully complete by the time Isa was dawned in all its finesse and polish. Monumension didn't create the shockwaves of its predecessor, nor did it fulfill its potential like its successor. It's still a remarkably solid album even by Enslaved's standards, but it seems inevitable this album would have suffered a case of middle child syndrome.

Report this review (#525017)
Posted Friday, September 16, 2011 | Review Permalink
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.

Report this review (#919683)
Posted Tuesday, February 26, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars One of the first progressive black metal albums, and still one of the best. Enslaved started off as a run-of-the-mill yet excellent viking metal band, in fact pioneering that Norse-centric take on black metal, who then dabbled in proggy elements on "Mardraum". When they then cut this follow up, they dove headfirst into prog complexity, creating a truly unique and spectacular take on their viking music. The harsh chaos of black metal gets crazier, and the band opens up to the idea of run ups and lulls. These are particularly dark and heavy, as per the expectations of their genre, separating them from those of death metal by a country mile. Kjellson's rasps are ever great and mind invading in their element, but it is just a shame almost all the album is English rather than the band's usual Old Norse. And the two guitarists just nail the technical and weighty aspects of the genre mix. "Convoys To Nothingness" is just a wonderful opener that shows off the band's style and grabs hold of a listener; it alone is a black metal classic and proof of this album's excellence. Highly recommended to all black metal and prog metal fans - this was the start of a whole new direction in black metal, and a masterpiece in its own right.
Report this review (#1325423)
Posted Wednesday, December 17, 2014 | Review Permalink
4 stars Enslaved continues on the way they paved with the former release with the same level of sophistication.

The first track "Convoy to nothingness" has a bleak starting motive and crushing vocals/riffing. You can argue that it's closer to death metal than black metal. The bleak motive is repeated in a very slow, hypnotic, with Mellotron/Moog - this is as close to prog rock as it can be. "The voices" has a mourning motive, one of the mellowest songs that Enslaved produced up to that point. "Hollow inside" has a beautiful solemn Hammond, clean vocals and belongs to the progressive retro-metal songs.

Progressive riffing, complex vocals (clean + shrieks) and all possible Enslaved styles combined are featured in the flag ship "The Cromlech Gate". I like the "shaking' guitar sound. "Enemy" has a perfect sophisticated drum pattern and a mischievous prophetic vocal. "Smirr" is a burning intensive black/death progressive number, oh did you notice mellotron in it?

The epic "The Sleep: Floating Diversity - A Monument Part III" might be the closer not to progressive rock/metal so far by Enslaved, very memorable and sophisticated. "Sigmundkvadet" is a surprising end and choice - pure Viking clean vocals sung in Norwegian.

A great album.

Report this review (#2438904)
Posted Tuesday, August 18, 2020 | Review Permalink
4 stars Exciting. This is, in a word, how I would describe Monumension, the 6th album of Norwegian Viking metal heavyweights Enslaved. Marking their 10th anniversary as a band, the album was the fruit of 1 month spent in the recording studio experimenting with song structures and arrangements, as the Norse were determined to stretch the boundaries of their sound beyond their black/death origins, continuing and amplifying the metamorphosis that they had started on previous records. And although Monumension is not yet a beautiful butterfly that has completely left the chrysalis, it shows flashes of Enslaved's immense potential that the band will fully bring to fruition in later records.

The core idea at the heart of the album is simple: genre-bending experimentation. The roots of Enslaved's sound are firmly set in extreme black/death metal, with fast-paced, aggressive riffs, brutal drumming, and lacerating growls. From early on, the band had started incorporating into their sound Nordic folk music influences, drawing heavily from Viking cultural and religious heritage. On Monumension, Enslaved further weave into their music influences from thrash and classic metal, as well as marked 1970s progressive rock aesthetics. The legacy of bands like Pink Floyd and King Crimson is apparent throughout the record and especially on tracks like "Convoys to Nothingness", "Hollow Inside" (whose first half is almost an homage to Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd), "The Sleep: Floating Diversity - A Monument Part III" and "Outro: Self-Zero". Elongated and meandering song structures, psychedelic vibes, Hammond organs, vocoders and other strange sonic experiments clash with double-bass drumming, growls and razor-sharp guitar tremolos, conjuring up a world within a world, disorientating the listeners and leaving them breathless.

It's an alluring voyage the one that Enslaved invite the listeners to embark on. It's not a voyage that everyone will enjoy. And there's plenty of bumps and bruises along the road, as the Norwegians are still trying to find their feet and the sonic experiments are not always successful and occasionally backfire, like on the chaotic "Enemy I" or the unmemorable "Smirr". But when the genius strikes, the music turns to gold and I am left in awe of the sheer brilliance of the ideas Enslaved put together on tracks like "Convoys to Nothingness", "The Voices", "Hollow Inside", "The Cromlech Gate" and "The Sleep".

But it's the raw sense of fearless experimentation that is truly astonishing here. Other bands, with a similar musical heritage as Enslaved, were treading similar waters in those years, like Borknagar or Arcturus. With this album Enslaved outclasses the competition, not because Monumension is necessarily a superior product, but because of its boldness and audacity that leave me breathless and excited about this band still today, more than 20 years after the album's initial release.

Report this review (#2739328)
Posted Monday, April 25, 2022 | Review Permalink

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