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ENSLAVED - Eld cover
3.69 | 29 ratings | 4 reviews
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Album · 1997

Filed under Black Metal


1. 793 (Slaget om Lindisfarne) (16:10)
2. Hordalendingen (5:19)
3. Alfablot (6:33)
4. Kvasirs blod (7:51)
5. For lenge siden (8:08)
6. Glemt (8:04)
7. Eld (6:36)

Total Time: 58:44


Grutle Kjellson - Vocals & Bass
Ivar Bjørnson - Guitars & Keyboards
Harald Helgeson - Drums

About this release

DLP was limited to 1500 hand-numbered copies.

Warning - Osmose CD presses from February 2001 up to around 2005 may contain a
copy-protection method which renders the CD completely unreadable in PCs and
certain modern Hi-Fi systems. This isn't indicated anywhere on the packaging.

Thanks to Prog Geo for the updates

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Specialists/collaborators reviews

Kicking off with a 16 minute composition inspired by the Battle of Lindisfarne, Enslaved's Eld reveals that in the years since the 1994 release of their first two albums the band had not been standing still. Although they had yet to reach the progressive-black metal fusion they would perfect on later albums, prog-inspired song structures begin to play a more prominent role, and keyboards remain a significant part of their sound. Ivar Bjørnson's stint on the first Borknagar album, which itself was in a similar viking metal vein, means that this release feels a bit like a companion piece to that one due to the aesthetic and thematic overlap.
siLLy puPPy
Starting out with a lengthy non-metal intro encapsulates the very essence of ENSLAVED’s career on their third full length album ELD as does the entirety of the opening track “793 (Slaget Om Lindisfarne)” or in English “793 (The Battle Of Lindisfarne.)” The slightly over sixteen minute track displays another step in the continuing evolutionary step in this band’s sound and a snapshot to a rung on their ladder up to the progressive heights they would reach with their 21st century releases. ELD may well be a subordinate release in the shadow of their more famous debut “Vikingligr Veldi” and their series of progressive behemoths beginning with “Monumension,” but don’t doubt for a minute that ENSLAVED weren’t capable of extremely enthralling progressiveness in the form of Viking black metal on all their albums in between. This band just really knew how to blend a plethora of elements together in all the right ways to create captivating music. ELD is certainly no exception to this trend.

One of the first differences i notice on ELD in contrast to the previous album “Frost” is the drumming and as it turns out there has been a change of the guard in this department. On “Frost” we were graced with the talents of none other than black metal pioneer and band hopper Trym Torson (Emperor, Imperium, Zyklon etc) and on this release we hear Harald Helgeson taking up the duties. Although his drumming skills aren’t as proficient and aggressive as Torson, he is definitely able to get the job done and in a way that really suits the music. His style is noticeably different though and drumming styles are key differentiators in the metal world. However, like any good band should, everyone adapts to all the musicians on board, hence the reason why there is really no less than really good ENSLAVED album.

This album is just chock full of satisfying musical ideas. While the main focus is on second wave black metal and all the fury, raspy vocals and blastbeats that ensue, there is so much more on board here. Right from the symphonic intro we encounter everything from thrashy riffing, traditional metal rhythms and progressive time sigs that while not a mainstay at this point introduce themselves periodically and in just the right places to make this album feel very balanced. And also while the vocals are mostly placed in the aggressive raspy second wave black metal style, there is more attention placed on the clean monastery monk chants that will find their way into more extensive use on future releases. These chants while not dominant are nonetheless quite satisfying in the contrast. Possibly an inspiration from early Ulver? I would bet so.

For me ELD is another winner of an album. Since it is firmly rooted in the most extreme of black metal of the 90s, this will mostly appeal to fans of that style but there is a clear continuation of the progressive tendencies offered on the debut album while retaining the black metal dominance of the second. ENSLAVED are masters of simply ratcheting up their style and evolution little by little on each album and not really deviating significantly from what came before. While some may find their black metal focused albums more satisfying and some may lean towards the progressive one, it must be understood that they simply use both of these styles as a duality and only change the formula of how much each dominates. For me i really love both styles. Each album has a different ratio of how much each element is present and personally i love each and every possible combination with ELD being no exception. Album number three and just as satisfying as the first two. Not a great band in the making, but a great band already made.
Conor Fynes
'Eld' - Enslaved (5/10)

After two albums that varied quite a bit in their respective approaches, Enslaved took a break from album making for a few years before coming out with their third album, 'Eld'. As with virtually every chapter in this Norwegian black metal band's history, there are a variety of sounds and developments in the band's formula. Wandering boldly out of the black metal territory into a more progressive region of music, 'Eld' hints at the sound that Enslaved would later more wholesomely adopt with albums like 'Mardraum' and 'Below The Lights'. without completely jumping into it. While some see this album as being a great mix of the older black metal, or later progressive sounds, 'Eld' personally strikes me as an album that comes up short in both worlds, lacking the dynamic or complexity of the later, while being light on ferocity and the atmosphere of the first two albums. Although 'Eld' is still a correct step forward for Enslaved, it is a fairly rough transition, and as a result has been one of the least memorable Enslaved albums.

Of greatest note and recognition here is the opening track '793 Slaget Om Lindisfarne', an epic dedicated to an old Viking conquest. Dwarfing all other tracks here at sixteen minutes in length, 'Eld' is opened up on a relatively strong note with this track, breathing some life into the music with a lush symphonic introduction, before going into the more definitive blastbeats and tremolo guitar picking of black metal. The music here also shows a very deep rooting now in the sounds of the style called Viking metal, featuring droning clean vocals and some faint acoustic sounds. Where 'Eld' begins to go wrong is its failed attempt at achieving the sense of epic ambition it sets itself out for. Although '793' does feel like a single composition that has been fairly thoughtfully put together, it generally lacks a feeling of climax, or epic proportion. Instead, the music feels like it cycles between ideas that are fairly good, to excellence, to bland mediocrity, and uses them each numerous times throughout the sixteen minute track. The ideas are rarely ever developed upon, which makes it difficult to get a truly excellent experience from this track. However, the ambition of '793' makes it worth the journey alone, and the moments of excellence are used very well.

The rest of the songs here are fairly decent, yet somewhat bland when compared to the material that came before. With 'Vikingligr Veldi', the music emphasized epic metal and complex orchestrations. 'Frost' then focused on a more orthodox approach to raw black metal. 'Eld' tries to merge the two, but does neither style particularly well, only decently. The heavy black metal moments feel very similar to the same writing on earlier stuff, but with less bite to it. In terms of the more progressive orchestrations here, Grutle Kjellson tries his hand at clean singing quite a bit here, but it's clear that he would still have some way to go before getting the vocals nailed. Although comparatively weaker to the previous two albums, 'Eld' does sport some cleaner production to it, which will certainly attract those who found the less polished studio work of black metal-era Enslaved off-putting.

Although this is certainly my least favourite Enslaved album at the time of writing, 'Eld' is a decent album, if even only for its sense of ambition and progression. There are been a very clear step forward in development here, and while Enslaved does not do such a great job at consolidating their sound here, 'Eld' will endear many of those who favour Enslaved's Viking metal era most.
Eld combines the technicality and fury of Frost with the epic glory of Vikingligr Veldi. The frequent clean chants and variations in tempo and instrumentation turn this harsh and extreme metal into an enjoyable and mature black metal classic.

793 commemorates a Viking victory over the Lindisfarne monastery in England, one of the first big Viking raids. It clearly inspired the guys for a surging 16 minutes attack of epic and anthemic metal glory, the songs has plenty of variation in tempo and melody, clean chants and harsh singing. Hordalendingen is entirely different, fast, technical, thrashy and furious. Harsh technical black metal. The pagan chant that serves as chorus lightens up the proceedings. Together with the opener it offers the best 21 minutes of early Enslaved music.

The remainder of the album rarely goes beneath the standard set by the first two tracks. Alfablot is another 6 minutes of black metal rage with a number of symphonic accents and sparse clean vocals to balance the turmoil. Kvasirs Blod alternates between black metal blast beats, thrash metal and slower paced funeral doom sections. But by the time For Lenge Siden comes along, we’re a good 35 minutes into the album and as usual with this kind of music, the experience gets rather exhausting. The 8 uncompromisingly harsh minutes of this track offer no relief. Also Glemt is hard to sit through but the it slows down a bit over halfway and a section with spacey keyboards and clean singing predicts the more traditional prog leanings of later Enslaved. The album closer Eld dwells in similar territory

The production is harsh and dirty and spoils some of the listening experience, but if you manage to ignore the tin can drums and the overstressed high end frequencies, the album is a real treat and one of the greatest albums in Viking Metal. It’s rather long for music of this intensity but if you ignore the lesser moments, there's still a good 45 minutes of excellence.

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