ENSLAVED — Caravans to the Outer Worlds

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ENSLAVED - Caravans to the Outer Worlds cover
3.50 | 4 ratings | 2 reviews
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EP · 2021


1. Caravans to the Outer Worlds (6:36)
2. Intermezzo I - Lönnlig Gudlig (3:15)
3. Ruun II - The Epitaph (5:37)
4. Intermezzo II - The Navigator (2:44)

Total Time 18:12


- Ivar Bjørnson / Guitars
- Grutle Kjellson / Vocals (lead), Bass, Mouth harp, Electronics, Effects
- Arve Isdal / Guitars
- Håkon Vinje / Keyboards, Vocals
- Iver Sandøy / Drums

About this release

Nuclear Blast, October 1st, 2021

Official music video:
- Caravans to the Outer Worlds

Thanks to UMUR for the addition


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

"Caravans To The Outer Worlds" is an EP release by Norwegian progressive black metal act Enslaved. The EP was released through Nuclear Blast in October 2021. It succeeds the release of the band´s 15th full-length studio album "Utgard" from October 2020, and features the same quintet lineup as the album. It´s not unusal for Enslaved to release EPs with additional non-album material. The two 2011 EPs "The Sleeping Gods" and "Thorn" are other examples of that.

"Caravans To The Outer Worlds" features 4 tracks and total playing time of 18:12. The opening title track is a progressive metal track, and it´s quite the catchy and memorable track, which could easily have been included on "Utgard" (2020). The track features everything you´d expect from a contemporary Enslaved song, like raspy/clean vocals, vintage keyboards/organ, 70s progressive/psychadelic rock influences, organic rhythmic playing, and of course a dose of atmospheric black metal. It´s one of the stronger and more remarkable tracks I´ve heard from them in a while. "Intermezzo I - Lönnlig Gudlig" follows and it´s a dark, brooding, and atmospheric instrumental.

"Ruun II - The Epitaph" is the third track of the EP. Although this one features clean vocals by keyboard player Håkon Vinje, it´s a continuation of the dark, gloomy, and almost psychadelic tinged style of the preceding track. It´s repetitive and hypnotic in nature, building an ominous atmosphere. The use of choirs and organic acoustic instruments deserve a mention here. "Intermezzo II - The Navigator" concludes the EP and sounds like Enslaved playing a Hawkwind song. Great driving psychadelic space rock. It´s no surprise that Enslaved pull it off with ease. At this point in their career it´s the most natural thing in the world to them.

Upon conclusion "Caravans To The Outer Worlds" is a high quality EP release by Enslaved. It´s less polished and slightly more experimental in nature than the material on "Utgard" (2020), and that approach suits Enslaved well. They´ve always been best when they added a bit of organic grit to their releases, and "Caravans To The Outer Worlds" is one such release. A 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.
siLLy puPPy
ENSLAVED seems to have overcome its moniker as it has over the course of three decades been one of the most prolific and creative shapeshifters in all of extreme metal and in the year 2021, some thirty years after its formation in the icy cold Norwegian city of Haugesund, Ivar Bjørnson, Grutle Kjellson and their constantly rotating cast of musical accompaniment are continuing to churn out more innovative and even currently relevant music.

A year after the band’s Scandinavian folk-infused progressive black metal offering “Utgard,” ENSLAVED is back with an EP’s worth of four new tracks that offer yet another take on the band’s already established mishmash of folkened black prog metal. ENSLAVED proves not only to be an astute long term survivor in the extreme metal world but maintains its popularity due to the fact that this band knows how to juxtapose the aforementioned ingredients and change things up just enough to keep things a bit different than what came before.

CARAVANS TO THE OUTER WORLDS is a short but sweet EP (ENSLAVED’s fourth overall not counting demos) which clocks in at only 18 minutes but offers four intense atmospheric prog and black metal tunes that continue to forge ahead into the future. On this EP, ENSLAVED joins the ranks of the more psychedelic black metal bands that look to the stars rather than confine themselves to the fjords with themes from the stars as well as lysergic organ runs and other space rock elements melding their way into the crunchy power chords and blackened prog workouts.

Wisely ENSLAVED sticks to its established sound on its full-length releases but isn’t afraid to experiment radically once in a while on these infrequent EP releases. Perhaps this is a testing ground to see how well this type of music is received but if the success of psychedelic black metal acts like Oranssi Pazuzu and Hail Spirit Noir are any indication, ENSLAVED has a pretty good chance of adapting its classic sounds to a new era of hybridized black metal that keeps morphing into the next phase of evolution.

For those more accustomed to ENSLAVED’s heavier sounds of yore ranging from the 90s black metal behemoths that culminated with “Mardraum” or the intricately designed black metal prog that ran from “Monumension” to “In Times,” CARAVANS TO THE OUTER WORLDS may be a bit of a disappointment due to the fact the clear emphasis is on the atmospheric and ethereal elements with only the heavier parts adding a bit of contrast. ENSLAVED has definitely mellowed out in recent years but that’s really not a bad thing at all considering how incredibly well this band crafts melodic folk-fueled catchiness with atmospheric and heavy contrasting elements.

Given that CARAVANS TO THE OUTER WORLDS is designed to take ENSLAVED on a journey into the world of space rock, i’m not really put off by the lack of metal heft in comparison to the classic years of yore. This is simply a really outstanding series of four tracks that actually leave me wanting more. This easily could’ve been extended into a full-length release and i for one would totally embrace this spacier side of ENSLAVED ever expanding persona. While purists will surely be left cold by this perceived wimping out of an aging metal band, i find this one to be quite a statement of expansiveness to continue to take ENSLAVED down roads never considered way back in the Viking theme days. While by no means ENSLAVED’s best works here, this is definitely an essential listening experience for true fans.

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