ENSLAVED — Vikingligr Veldi

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ENSLAVED - Vikingligr Veldi cover
3.73 | 28 ratings | 5 reviews
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Album · 1994

Filed under Black Metal


1. Lifandi lif undir hamri (11:31)
2. Vetrarnótt (10:58)
3. Miðgarðs eldar (11:16)
4. Heimdallr (6:15)
5. Norvegr (10:56)

Total Time: 50:58


- Ivar Bjørnson / guitar, keyboards
- Grutle Kjellson / bass, vocals
- Trym Torson / drums

About this release

The original version did not mention any title on the cover/spine, and so the
album was often mistakenly referred to as self-titled or untitled.

Re-released as 2xCD in 2004 by Candlelight Records, with "Hordanes Land" on 2nd
Also planned for a never issued re-release as a 2xLP with bonus live tracks:
6. Fenris
7. Hordalendingen

Titles in English:
1. Living Life Beneath The Hammer
2. A Winter's Night
3. Fires Of Midgard
4. Heimdall
5. Norway

Thanks to UMUR, Vehemency, Prog Geo for the updates


More places to buy metal & ENSLAVED music


Specialists/collaborators reviews

siLLy puPPy
ENSLAVED set themselves apart from the rest of the black metal pack right from the getgo and continued to do so with their debut full-length release VIKINGLIGR VELDI. As the title suggests this is Viking metal in lyrical content while existing in the black metal realm musically. The lyrics are mostly in Icelandic (very closely related to Old Norse) and the lyrics of “Heimdalir” are actually in ancient Norwegian, however this IS black metal and even if you speak the languages I would be surprised if you could discern any intelligible meaning from the shrieks and grunts and tortured utterings if you spent the rest of your life trying to do so.

As with their EP “Hordanes Land” the album kicks off with a catchy little keyboard riff that remains the backbone of a massive fury of black metal madness. Although this debut is not totally in the progressive black metal realms that would fully unfold on “Monumension” it is clear by the track times here that the band were carving out a path where they could follow allowing them to unfold their ideas into a more progressive atmosphere. The first track clocks in at 11:31 and despite the band's progressive desires failing to fully measure up to the potential of the time-lengths, there is something of a satisfying result in that despite the ideas becoming repetitive, the keyboards are somewhat hypnotic and lull you into the groove which I find is good enough to keep me entertained. After becoming fully engrossed in it after a while, they suddenly change it up a bit and take you for another hypnotic spin. There are changes but they are subtle despite the aggressive fury occupying every measure and note.

With only five tracks that add up to almost 51 minutes of music, it is clear that ENSLAVED were interested in more sophisticated music than many of the second wave black metal artists. There is however much in common with those acts. The keyboard tracks remind me a lot of Emperor (in fact Tym Torson who plays drums here was in both bands), while the most aggressive ones of Darkthrone. Their sound, although somewhat unique, still sounds very much rooted in the black metal of the early 90s. It would take a few albums for them to really blossom into the totally unique act that they would become. I actually didn't like this album a whole lot upon first listen but after many listens it grew on me and it allowed me to pick up on the subtleties that don't really slap you in the face at first. The music satisfies all those primeval black metal needs but also has a bit more to it. I have grown to like this album more than I thought I ever would and there is a true feel of potential present here even though it hasn't been fully unleashed at this point.
Unlike most of their contemporaries in the early Norwegian black metal scene, Enslaved did not seek to express pure aggression and anger, or spit bile at Christianity, or roar forth the praises of Satan, or express a depressive sort of misanthropy. Instead, their lyrical foundation on this album was based around their appreciation of ancient Viking myths - and not in a "we're going to smash the Judeo-Christians and take back our land sort of way" or a "we are deeply sad that our pagan heritage is gone" way, as with Bathory's early Viking metal pieces. Instead, they simply present the myths and say "Here, these are the stories of our people, enjoy them"; the lyrics express a mood of quiet confidence and peace with the world, with what violence there is emerging not from people but from the wild and untamed forces of nature as expressed by the gods.

This lyrical foundation is supported by their musical approach. Though Grutle bellows forth the lyrics in a wild black metal shriek, to my ears his approach is more declarative and proclamatory than aggressive and brutal, and underpinning the wall of noise established by the guitars is some truly unexpectedly gentle, melodic, and peaceful synthesiser lines from Ivar. Whereas Emperor and their successors used synthesisers to create a grand sense of symphonic pomp and ceremony surrounding their music, and Varg Vikernes used them for dark ambient experimentation, Emperor of all the black metal bands seem to want us to chill out, relax, and let their synthesiser melodies sooth us in the midst of the chaotic guitar squalls which evoke the storms of long-ago Scandinavian winters.

In short, this debut album takes a unique approach to black metal and sets Enslaved on their own highly individual trajectory, and as such I think it's one of the most genuinely innovative and experimental works in the early genre.
Even back in 1994, Enslaved was a bit of an 'odd duck' in the Norwegian black metal scene. Whereas many of the genre's forerunners were busy writing Satanic lyrics, burning down churches, or (in the case of Varg Vikernes and Euronymous) killing each other, Enslaved instead focused on creating a - for the time period, at least - very strange blend of ice cold black metal, symphonic keyboards, viking themed lyrics, and seventies' progressive rock. Although the progressive tendencies are hardly as noticeable as they would soon become, they were prominent enough to allow Vikingligr Veldi to stand out from the hordes of Mayhem and Burzum clones on the scene. I wouldn't venture to say this is one of the best Enslaved albums, but Vikingligr Veldi is a very highly recommended purchase for those who enjoy raw old school black metal with a few unique twists.

At its core, Vikingligr Veldi is very firmly rooted in Norwegian black metal. Lots of fast blast-beats, tremolo picked guitar riffs, and throaty vocals are found here, but Enslaved also throw some symphonic keyboards and ambient influences into the mix for good measure. I do hear a very strong Burzum influence here - like many of Varg's masterworks, the tracks are very long and repetitive, thus creating a rather hypnotic effect on the listener. Enslaved has an additional progressive edge that sets them apart, though, and I absolutely love when the synthesizers come into play. They really help flesh out the overall experience and give some melodic hooks for the listener to grab onto.

Later works from Enslaved are known for their crystal-clear production and tight musicianship, but that wasn't at all the case on Vikingligr Veldi. Like almost all black metal albums from this era, the musicianship is a bit sloppy and the production is just about as raw and unpolished as they come. That hopefully shouldn't scare away any potential listeners, though - the raw production suits the chilling atmosphere of Vikingligr Veldi perfectly, and the unpolished musicianship never gets in the way of my enjoyment.

Looking back on Vikingligr Veldi over fifteen years since its initial release, it's pretty clear that this promising Norwegian black metal act would go on to do much greater things over the span of their career. Enslaved has since released plenty of genre-defining progressive black metal albums, and even though this debut is damn good in my eyes, it's not one of their most essential purchases if you're looking to get into them. Still, Vikingligr Veldi is very much worth a look from any fan of Enslaved as well as old school Norwegian black metal in general. This is one of the better black metal albums from the early ninties', and as such deserves at least 3.5 stars. Though not an essential purchase, Vikingligr Veldi is a very promising start for these extreme metal behemoths.
Conor Fynes
'Vikingligr Veldi' - Enslaved (7/10)

There is no doubt that the early 90's were a particularly important, and turbulent time for the then-virtually unknown Norwegian black metal scene. With such acts as Mayhem and Burzum reaching near legendary statuses within their underground circles and then reaching a persisting notoriety over their satanic imagery and association with church burnings, the scene of black metal was fast becoming a media darling over a legitimate style of expression. Things would get no better for the musicians of black metal when Mayhem's vocalist fed himself the firing end of a shotgrun, and Burzum's mastermind's following murder Mayhem guitarist Euronymous. With such an infamy and spectacle in place, it was becoming hard for such black metal acts as Enslaved to be taken seriously as artists, based on the actions of their contemporaries. With Enslaved having since moved farther and farther away from orthodox black metal in recent times, 'Vikingligr Veldi' is a testament to the band's roots; where they came from. While it may be much less recognized by the metal community than some of the other Norwegian black metal albums of the time, the album proves early on that Enslaved were up to something different than their frostbitten compatriots.

The black metal sound is here in spades; the raw distorted guitars, raspy snarls, fast pace and primitive drums all tie in Enslaved to the other black metal acts. However, the music here rests on a different spectrum in black metal than the majority of the other acts that had achieved a degree of respect and fame. To break apart the black metal sound, there are symphonic keyboards, and some fantastic folk nuances. Possibly the most notable thing to mention about 'Vikingligr Veldi' is that Enslaved decides to avert away from the typical satanic, evil imagery in favour of more nature-based, folky themes in the lyrics. This only goes to show that Enslaved was really making a conscious effort to set themselves apart, and if the debut album is any sign, they accomplished that.

The highlight of the music really rests on the things Enslaved does to make the black metal sound unique for them, with particular focus on the folk elements. The guitars are more moderate in their approach, sometimes slowing down to powerful mid-tempo riffs. This is however, an earlier black metal album by all regards, and it does share weak points that generally go along with the style. While some of the more intricate riffs here are very powerful, it feels like the riffs that Enslaved repeats the most often are also the most simplistic, driving blastbeats overtop to mask what would otherwise turn into a somewhat tedious venture. The production is raw and uncooked, but it does work quite well for that album. The album is very good, but a heavier focus on the 'non-black metal' elements would have made 'Vikingligr Veldi' an even more distinct piece of work.
Vikingler is a black metal milestone. It’s Enslaved most symphonic styled black metal album, closer to Emperor and Immortal then to their later extreme prog metal and an obvious inspiration for both the more commercial symphonic black metal bands like Dimmu Borgir and the atmospheric metals of early Katatonia and Agalloch.

The opening track Lifandi Lif Undir Hamri is very gripping and sums up everything that is on offer on this album, a fast, repetitive and entrancing pace, tremolo-picked guitar riffs, vicious black metal shrieks, haunting keyboards and folksy overtones. The track has only minimal melody but appeals greatly because of its rhythm and entrancing effect.

The remaining tracks have a similar approach, Vetranott is another 11 minute slab of up-tempo dark energy. Especially the blast beat section in the middle is wild and furious. Enslaved add just enough melody to make it digestible and alluring. Of course Grutle’s shrieks are an acquired taste and by the time the next 11 minutes of Midgards Eldar I tend to get somewhat weary of them as well.

Heilmdallr is an Enslaved classic that still features in their live set. More concise and decidedly more black and aggressive it’s a welcome change after the 3 epics that preceded. Also the instrumental Norvegr offers some variation in tempo and instrumentation, featuring even some (under-produced) acoustic guitars and prominent melodious bass guitar that gives it a gothic feel (think of a badly produced the Cure jam with fuzzed out guitars).

The production is really good for black metal standards of that era, of course it’s murky and trebly but all instruments are clearly audible, even the bass (at least if you have big woofers). The performance is inspired and energetic and the compositions are very big and symphonic. Not perfect but an impressive album. Essential for black metal fans.

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