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Enslaved Below the Lights album cover
4.10 | 145 ratings | 12 reviews | 39% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2003

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. As Fire Swept Clean the Earth (6:35)
2. The Dead Stare (5:37)
3. The Crossing (9:11)
4. Queen of Night (5:59)
5. Havenless (5:35)
6. Ridicule Swarm (6:18)
7. A Darker Place (7:01)

Total Time 46:16

Line-up / Musicians

- Grutle Kjellson / vocals, bass
- Ivar Bjørnson / guitar, keyboards, Fx
- Arve Isdal / lead guitar
- Per Husebø ("Dirge Rep") / drums

- Dennis Reksten / synth, Fx
- Inge Rypdal / lead guitar (7)
- Gina Torgnes / flute (4)
- Bjørgvin Tungrock Kor / chorus vocals (5)

Releases information

Artwork: Truls Espedal

CD Osmose Productions - OPCD 144 (2003, France)

LP Osmose Productions - OPLP 144 (2003, Europe)
LP Osmose Productions - OPLP 144 (2017, France)

Thanks to ivansfr0st for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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Buy ENSLAVED Below the Lights Music

ENSLAVED Below the Lights ratings distribution

(145 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(39%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(34%)
Good, but non-essential (19%)
Collectors/fans only (4%)
Poor. Only for completionists (3%)

ENSLAVED Below the Lights reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Isa
4 stars |B| Excellent black metal with plenty of King Crimson influences!

Really there's very little by this band I've heard so for that hasn't at the very least impressed me, and this album is certainly no exception. Enslaved is one of the leading bands in all of black metal, and developed into progressive tendencies, not unlike what Death did for death metal. Only instead of finding more technicality, we find a more atmospheric approach to the composition, which fits perfectly with the sort of sound-scape-ish nature of the original black metal style. Unlike many metal bands, prog or not, this band seems to avoid power chords and go straight for dissonance with the guitar work, and combine this dissonance with the adventurous composition of King Crimson and Pink Floyd, and eventually Rush as well in the following albums. The result is powerful, cohesive, quality progressive black metal.

Any fan of the band can expect to find, as with all of their other albums, something that overall distinguishes this from their other releases. This would, unfortunately, also be their last album to include distinctly viking folk influences, such as the opening chants in the track Havenless. This viking folk element is combined with well-polished black metal, along with many things that bring to mind such albums as In the Court of the Crimson King and Red, as well as Meddle or Dark Side of the Moon. This "prog" side of the band would only grow with further releases, creating work that towers almost everything else in extreme metal, in my mind.

So yes, brilliant black metal crunching riffs, as usual for the band, along with a mixture of black metal and clean vocals, prog nuances with mellotron and keyboard effects, and viking nuances in various tracks, drumming on this album is more relaxed than in most of the band's other work, even after this album, which I kind of like even more. The most energetic it gets is the black metal type of blast beats in Ridicule Swarm. All of these elements combine to make this album something very unique and great, defying categorization (other than "progressive black metal"), progressing their sound from album to album, just as all of the truly great prog bands do.

The fan of extreme prog metal, especially those who don't mind the black metal side of the genre, really 'ought to check out this band and much of their discography, the entirety of which I plan on purchasing, eventually. This is one of the best bands in this sub-genre as far as I'm concerned, and it greatly pleases me that they've been getting more attention for their work lately. Highly recommended to any fan of prog or metal. Essential to listeners of black metal.

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars I didn't get to hear any Enslaved album untill Below The Lights hit the shelves. It was quite a discovery and it has held a strong position in my charts ever since. Musically it is a continuation of Monumension, but it manages to stay clear of the cold experimentalism of that album and merges Enslaved's prog ambitions with a rocking energy.

The opening track is a treat. Signature Voivod riffs, varying time signatures and an elaborate song structure. It has a very aggressive bite and a number of blast beating attacks that rival their 90's albums. The Dead Stare is even better. It starts as a blackened version of Voivod again with Grutle Kjellson's screech in fine form. But around minute 2 magic happens. Enslaved realizes their prog potential here and dive into an extended psychedelic jam boosted by a forceful riff. Hazy vocals, organs and effects weave a big spacey atmosphere around it.

Enslaved found their momentum now and add another batch of some of their best compositions. The Crossing opens with 4 minutes of fine instrumental prog before it changes into an astounding composition that nicely varies their high black metal pitch with more laid-back melodic vocals. The hand of Voivod and the psychedelic daze of early Floyd is never far off.

Queen of The Night opens with a nice bit of Mahavishnu jazz rock before the sharp neurotic chromatic riffs kick in again. Havenless ends this strong string of intense music with a tribute to the pagan chants of their black metal years. Somehow I've never fully got into the two remaining tracks on the album. They contain some fine sections but somehow they don't compare to what preceded. They fail to add remarkable riffs or any other element to make them stand out.

Review by Conor Fynes
5 stars 'Below the Lights' - Enslaved (89/100)

Each time I visit this album, I'm more convinced that this is Enslaved's finest album. There are days where Axioma Ethica Odini and even Vertebrae might stand to dispute that claim-- at least in my eyes. Nonetheless, I don't think it would be fair to peg a different album as the one that made Enslaved everything they are.

Below the Lights is a masterpiece, and part of me thinks it's the result of the album being in the right place and time. Look at the band's output chronologically to see what I mean. On Mardraum and Monumension, Enslaved were lunging out of their shells as a undisputedly progressive band. I have a lot of respect for both albums, but as time's gone on, I've come to see them as transition pieces. Enslaved knew what they wanted to do, but it came across roughly. However brilliant the music was in large part, Mardraum in particular always comes off as an overcrowded mess with too much to prove. It would take a few years before the band became masters of the ideas they wanted to express, but they would get there.

I know there are fans that hail Isa (directly following Below the Lights) as the band's masterpiece, but it's never a feeling I've shared. Rather, in the albums after this, I actually believe Enslaved went too far with their control. Even the latter-era albums I loved sound like they've been brushed over with a fine-toothed comb. The blackened aura I loved on the early material was washed away. To call Below the Lights the "best of both worlds" wouldn't serve to express the inspiration they delivered this time around, but it might suggest why this one stands above the rest. However consistent they've been over their career, there have always been issues holding the band back, and it took an album like this one to prove just how good they could be.

Below the Lights is the only Enslaved album I could think of as a masterpiece from both a black metal or progressive standpoint. Other albums made compromises between one or the other. Below the Lights finally made due on their promise to marry the two genres as one. The album's unforgettable opener, "As Fire Swept Clean the Earth", demonstrates it superbly from the start. The intro is awash in vintage mellotron, as if Enslaved drew directly from a page out of Genesis' "Watcher of the Skies" off the classic Foxtrot and willed to twist it with black metal murk. Which they do, of course. The riffs here are thick and aggressive, and unlike most of their other albums, the production is rightly organic. Even Grutle Kjellson's throaty screams, which do little for me most times, have a fierceness to them you might assume had been muted by their proggy twist.

While the golden ratio between styles is a big part of why this album works so well, it would mean little if Enslaved had lacked for creative fire. When all of the songs included are full-bodied and distinctive, it's quickly obvious this isn't the case. While they've always been talented songwriters, this may be the most consistent batch of tracks ever released under the Enslaved banner. All of the tracks here offer a distinctive character. "The Dead Stare" follows the pummelling opener with quick-footed riffs and unexpected sonic interruptions of the space-kraut variety. "The Crossing" is a sweeping epic, replete with Opethian acoustics. "Queen of Night" is simultaneously one of the proggiest yet most oppressive tracks they've ever penned, so it's no wonder why it's a favourite for me on this album. Following that with Viking might come "Havenless", the black "Ridicule Swarm" and psychedelic "A Darker Place", I don't think there's a weak moment on this album.

It might be said that the final two tracks on this album don't quite live up to the par of the rest, but even then, I'd be hard-pressed to agree on most days. After all, "Ridicule Swarm" is host to one of my favourite ideas on the entire album (that part beginning around 3:15) and "A Darker Place" as a distinct Porcupine Tree glean to it that I cannot argue against. This may be the only point in Enslaved's career where they could do no wrong. Of course, that leads to the tragic element of this album; as quickly as they found their golden ratio, they abandoned it. I can't complain about a band continuing to evolve-- after all, that's the reason they're still successful-- but I don't think Enslaved will ever beat the masterstroke they achieved on Below the Lights.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Below the Lights" is the 7th full-length studio album by Norwegian black metal act Enslaved. The album was released in April 2003 by Osmose Productions. Incorporating more and more progressive elements into their "core" black metal sound over the last couple of albums, "Below the Lights" is probably one of the most progressive and diverse releases yet by Enslaved.

...while still being rooted in black metal, the music on "Below the Lights" features quite a few elements from 70s progressive/ experimental rock. Especially the occasionally used mellotron and organ lead my thoughts in that direction. As and example the mellotron intro to the opening track "As Fire Swept Clean the Earth" has that epic yet melancholic feel to it that I also associate with the intro the "Watcher Of The Skies" by Genesis. I don´t think it´s a coincidence that "As Fire Swept Clean the Earth" is the opening track on "Below the Lights" just as "Watcher Of The Skies" is the opening track on the album where it is featured (that would be "Foxtrot (1972)"). The closing repetitive and quite spacy sounding minutes of "The Dead Stare" have a very obvious Hawkwind sound to it (nice psychadelic sounding synth effects) and is another example of the strong 70s progressive/space rock vibe that is present on "Below the Lights". Or maybe take a listen to the intro to "Queen of Night" which features flute and a prog folky sound.

When that is said "Below the Lights" probably isn´t an album that will suit the taste of many "regular" progressive rock fans who aren´t accostumed to extreme metal. The vocals are for the most part still very extreme and delivered in an aggressive raspy sneer. There are occasional clean vocals featured on the album too, but they are not that dominant. "Below the Lights" is a very diverse album and while that´s not always a strength in my book as too much diversity has a tendency to ruin consistency, it´s an asset here. In addition to the progressive elements I mentioned above you´ll find both blasting black metal sections, blackened thrashy sections, epic atmospheric sections and a viking chant no less. The latter occurs in the track "Havenless" and to be honest I found it quite silly to begin with, not being a great fan of viking or folk metal in general, but it´s kinda grown on me and I´ve come to the realization that it sits quite well on the album and brings a different atmosphere to the table that makes the album even more long lasting that it already is. The album features enough variation for you to return to it again and again.

The sound production is enjoyable but compared to later more mature and well produced releases by Enslaved, I think it leaves a bit to be desired. On the other hand I like the rawness and unpolished sound of "Below the Lights", so I guess the sound isn´t an issue in the end.

"Below the Lights" is a very strong album showcasing both Enslaved´s black metal past and progressive extreme metal future. It´s a distinct sounding album both compared to the rest of the band´s own discograpy but also compared to extreme metal in general. It´s an album that´s taken a while to grow on me, but patience has paid off this time. A 4.5 star rating is fully deserved.

Review by Warthur
4 stars This mysterious and melancholy piece of progressive black metal sees Enslaved exploring further sonic possibilities of the walls of guitar noise and mellotron waves they create. The highlight of the album must be the incredible The Crossing, particularly the turning point in the song when a folk-tinged instrumental lament takes an abrupt left turn into a harsh black metal rant. There are many such twists and turns between beauty and harsh, pounding ugliness on the album, which represents a great example of a band from the classic era of Norwegian black metal embracing growth, experimentation and musical change successfully. Four and a half stars, easily.
Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Norwegian death metal artists are back with their sixth studio album release since their 1994 debut, Vikingligr Veldi.

1. "As Fire Swept Clean the Earth" (6:35) Gollum vocals! and then, later, deep mountain trolls. The music is so simple with it's two two-chord foundations alternating from start to finish. The Fripp-like lead guitar work in the final two minutes is nice. (8.667/10)

2. "The Dead Stare" (5:37) a little more dynamic fluctuation here but still hard to tolerate with those indecipherable vocals. (8.5/10)

3. "The Crossing" (9:11) acoustic guitars!? Oh. The metal walls of sound take over--again using two two-chord progressions (one major, one minor) as the sole basis for the entire song. The slowed down passage starting at the end of the third minute is actually quite nice. But then an old-fashioned two-chord metal passage is faded in during the fifth minute, bringing with it the growl vocals (the song's first vocals). A minute later the guitars shift to more spacious staccato strumming with normal human voice vocals before the music again shifts into a more of a swing rhythmic pattern. These last two motifs alternate back and forth over the next few minutes before turning to a rather hypnotic (and, actually, pretty) tremolo-guitar-based instrumental section for the ninth minute and finish. Parts of that were actually quite good! (17.5/20)

4. "Queen of Night" (5:59) opening with an odd acoustic guitar and flute duet, the music is quickly supplanted by metal (almost industrial metal) for some display of flashy lead guitar speed shredding. The vocals in the fourth minute have a monastic haunting feel similar to something from Blue Öyster Cult. But then we turn a corner into some very choppy stoccato and machine gun bas and guitar playing over which growl vocalist Grutle Kjellson does his thing. Pretty amazing speeds generated by that bass player! (8.75/10)

5. "Havenless" (5:35) Warrior-like men's group choir vocals over the metal guitar play opens this one before the growler takes over. The most schizophrenic song on the album, there are so many parts and dramatic vocal voices used that it is truly confusing. Interesting but just a little too weird. (8.5/10)

6. "Ridicule Swarm" (6:18) weird keyboard spacey ghostness opens this before the death metal stuff comes crashing in at the end of the first minute. Nice variation with the growls (in both duration and pitch) and nice drum play. Some kind of film voice sample in the background during the midsection is then followed by a "lulling" metal passage before the death metal stuff comes crashing back in. Definitely one of the more interesting songs on the album. (8.667/10)

7. "A Darker Place" (7:01) my brain hurts! Even the acoustic guitar mid-section and more 1980s heavy blues metal finish is more than my puny little vegetarian brain can take. (13/15)

Total Time 46:16

I finally decided to give these Death Metal artists a listen because I so respect and love Ivar Bjørnson for his Viking folk rock collaboration with Einar Selvik, the 2018 release, Hugsjá. but, in the end, I am, as usual, disappointed with the sonic textures presented in support of the death metal growls. Just not my cup of tea. Plus, the music is often far simpler than I expected (especially the drums--the bass is often amazing.)

B-/3.5 stars; a mind-numbing album of metal music that may find fans within the fold but, to my mind, even there might find detractors for the sometimes simple music and not-so-very-impressive soloing on display. Perhaps the messages mean more to those fans, but, as we all know, I do not hear lyrics--and especially not in the death metal growl form. I cannot in good conscience assign this the "excellent addition to any prog rock music collection" precisely because I've never been quite certain of death metal's place in Prog World but also because, even if I try to put myself into a Metal Head's mindset, I can see a lot of flaws and shortcomings with the music this album puts forward.

Latest members reviews

4 stars "Progression or evolution is best served if it does not include dismissing either the past elements or the future possibilities. Being all about regression makes music rotten from the inside in the long run, while total futurism tears up roots and make the tree fall," said Ivar Bjornson, foundin ... (read more)

Report this review (#2508790) | Posted by ssmarcus | Thursday, February 25, 2021 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Enslaved are a great progressive black metal band from Norway. In my effort to listen to more black metal, I came across Enslaved. I really liked this album because it was heavy black metal that had a lot of progressive rock influences in it. The progressive rock influenced music made the album ... (read more)

Report this review (#2447315) | Posted by progtime1234567 | Saturday, September 12, 2020 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Enslaved delivered another of their masterpieces with "Below the lights". There is a right and delicate balance of instrumental prowess, compositional maturity, experimentation and taste to not overcomplicate things even to a standard metal fan. There are many things to be discovered and I ha ... (read more)

Report this review (#2439119) | Posted by sgtpepper | Tuesday, August 18, 2020 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Below The Lights is, in my opinion, the reason black metal was ever created. A masterpiece without a doubt, this album will take to beautiful as well as very frightening places. I've never heard before, of a band that captures the essence of 70s progressive rock so well without actually trying to ... (read more)

Report this review (#300167) | Posted by Revan | Wednesday, September 22, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Below the Lights is an excellent Black Metal release by progressive black metal band Enslaved. There's lot's of creativity in the album, and from the beginning one should know that they aren't in for a ride of a standard metal album OR a standard prog album, because "As Fire Swept Clean The Ea ... (read more)

Report this review (#221579) | Posted by topofsm | Wednesday, June 17, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Their best work! Enslaved was formed in 1991, by Ivar Bjørnson and Grutle Kjellson. Joined by drummer Trym Torsson, they did their first demo in the summer of 1992. They started out as a Viking/Black metal band and then developed their own uniqe style that we know today. Below the Lights" were ... (read more)

Report this review (#118445) | Posted by Kid.A | Sunday, April 15, 2007 | Review Permanlink

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