ENSLAVED
Black Metal • Norway

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Enslaved is a metal band from Bergen, Norway. Their style has changed over the years. Originally being an old-school black metal/viking metal act, they now perform a more experimental form of progressive black metal with folk influences. The name was inspired by an Immortal demo track, Enslaved in Rot.

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. While working with the first full length, there came a call from England, resulting in the two 1993 legendary mini albums; Hordanes land and Emperor These two mini-albums was released as a split-record "Emperor/Hordanes Land". Due to tragic circumstances, Enslaved’s debut album Vikingligr Veldi was held back until the spring of 1994. Enslaved moved their label base to French Osmose Productions, and Frost were released late in the 1994. Enslaved were now known outside the
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In TimesIn Times
Nuclear Blast Americ 2015
Audio CD$6.76
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Nuclear Blast Americ 2008
Audio CD$4.09
$4.12 (used)
Below the LightsBelow the Lights
Import
Osmose Productions 2003
Audio CD$10.77
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Isa [Vinyl]Isa [Vinyl]
Plastic Head 2011
Vinyl$28.14
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Season of Mist 2008
Audio CD$9.96
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Import
Osmose Productions 2000
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Nuclear Blast America 2010
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Season of Mist 2008
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Nuclear Blast America 2015
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ENSLAVED Discography

ENSLAVED albums / top albums

.. Album Cover 3.78 | 22 ratings
Vikingligr Veldi
Black Metal 1994
.. Album Cover 3.72 | 22 ratings
Frost
Black Metal 1994
.. Album Cover 3.68 | 22 ratings
Eld
Black Metal 1997
.. Album Cover 3.38 | 15 ratings
Blodhemn
Black Metal 1998
.. Album Cover 3.53 | 18 ratings
Mardraum: Beyond the Within
Black Metal 2000
.. Album Cover 3.96 | 19 ratings
Monumension
Black Metal 2001
.. Album Cover 4.03 | 22 ratings
Below the Lights
Black Metal 2003
.. Album Cover 4.18 | 37 ratings
Isa
Black Metal 2004
.. Album Cover 3.69 | 25 ratings
Ruun
Black Metal 2006
.. Album Cover 3.83 | 33 ratings
Vertebrae
Black Metal 2008
.. Album Cover 4.07 | 46 ratings
Axioma Ethica Odini
Black Metal 2010
.. Album Cover 4.22 | 31 ratings
RIITIIR
Black Metal 2012
.. Album Cover 3.75 | 5 ratings
In Times
Black Metal 2015

ENSLAVED EPs & splits

.. Album Cover 3.66 | 10 ratings
Hordanes Land
Black Metal 1993
.. Album Cover 3.61 | 19 ratings
The Sleeping Gods
Black Metal 2011
.. Album Cover 3.39 | 9 ratings
Thorn
Black Metal 2011
.. Album Cover 2.50 | 1 ratings
Shining on the Enslaved
Black Metal 2015

ENSLAVED live albums

ENSLAVED demos, promos, fans club and other releases (no bootlegs)

.. Album Cover 1.74 | 5 ratings
Nema
Black Metal 1991
.. Album Cover 2.78 | 3 ratings
Yggdrasil
Black Metal 1992

ENSLAVED boxset & compilations

ENSLAVED singles (0)

ENSLAVED movies (DVD, Blu-Ray or VHS)

.. Album Cover
4.17 | 3 ratings
Live Retaliation
Black Metal 2003
.. Album Cover
4.33 | 3 ratings
Return to Yggdrasil: Live in Bergen
Black Metal 2005

ENSLAVED Reviews

ENSLAVED Nema

Demo · 1991 · Black Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
FMOTP
I'll start with the fact that I'm an Enslaved fanatic, because it is relevant. They're one of the bands that I spend the most time listening to. It's the reason that I gave this NEMA demo a chance, despite the predominantly dismal reviews it's received from others. I think PA collaborator siLLy puPPy is right on track with his review. In terms of sound quality, I will rank this one higher than the YGGDRASIL demo. I'm not one who cares much about sound quality, as long as I can hear each instrument.

Sadly, even the re-released version of YGGDRASIL is unlistenable for me. NEMA is clearly a record made by inexperienced young men. I can't single out any song as being significantly better than the others; the two fully developed songs overstay their welcome somewhat. There are occasional hints of Enslaved's future creativity on display in NEMA. I would recommend this record as an occasional diversion for true fans, which is the definition of a 2-star release.

ENSLAVED Blodhemn

Album · 1998 · Black Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
siLLy puPPy
Something happened on album #4 from Norway’s premiere progressive black metal band ENSLAVED. They actually had a retrograde. One of the things i love about this band is how they slowly ratchet themselves up progressively making each release a little bit more sophisticated than the rest for most of their career. Well, on BLODHEMN (Vengeance In Blood) we have a little step backwards in the quality department and although this is perfectly executed black metal in action, let’s face it. We’re talking about ENSLAVED here and substandard just doesn’t cut the mustard, but it doesn’t quite cut the cheese either. This is an example of a great band falling off a rung or two on the way up the ladder and even though this is probably my least favorite ENSLAVED album, it is by no means a five star example of suckdom. But neither is it one you will want to impregnate your iPod for the rest of your days. It is just OK. Nothing less, nothing more.

I think i nailed it with my black metal drummers critique on my review of “Eld.” They are essentially the backbone of everything black metal. Once again we have a change of guard on the drumming duties and we have an exit stage right (Heavens to Murgatroyd) from Harald Helgeson and is replaced by Dirge Rep (Per Husebø). There is a noticeable quality issue going on here. BLODHEMN just doesn’t seem as innovative, as tight nor as entertaining as any release prior or following, thus IMHO the nadir of ENSLAVED’s career, but keep in mind, this is ENSLAVED we’re talking about and even the lowest they can dip is still enough to float a ship. My least favorite album of theirs and probably the least that i go back to but this is by no means bad. Just not outstanding.

We can basically think of BLODSHEMN as the album where ENSLAVED got cold feet dipping into progressive waters and freaked friggin’ out and retreated back to black metal central. Yes, all the attributes of “Eld” still find their way on BODSHEMN but other than the typical second wave black metal a la Darkthrone on board here, the other aspects that were progressing the band have become subdued and overpowered, therefore unlike the previous album, this one seems totally UNbalanced . It is mostly a highly aggressive black metal attack with previous elements thrown in willy-nilly.

However, just as i start to feel this album is a total washout it redeems itself at the end. We get more clean vocal monk chanting, we get more folky distractions, we get more, well progressive leanings. ENSLAVED redeems themselves with BLODSHEMN by the time we finish this album but at the cost of the album feeling very rushed or mal-conceived or just not up to par with what came before and definitely not with what came after. So in short, BLODSHEMN is a nice follow up to “Eld” focusing on their Viking metal stance and all but just doesn’t quite cut the mustard in the progressive department. After all, they up their own ante many times and started a trend that they suddenly got all weirded out about, but have no fear! After this album things only get better. Much better in fact. While i find this the least enchanting ENSLAVED album in their discography is still so worth having. I mean how can you own all the rest and have this deleted from the collection?!! Seriously, bad in comparison to other ENSLAVED albums but still pretty good on the world’s stage.

ENSLAVED Eld

Album · 1997 · Black Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
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.

ENSLAVED In Times

Album · 2015 · Black Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
UMUR
"In Times" is the 13th full-length studio album by Norwegian progressive extreme metal act Enslaved. The album was released through Nuclear Blast Records in March 2015. Enslaved has for the last many albums had a steady touring/recording cycle of two years between studio albums, but "RIITIIR (2012)" was quite the successful release for the band, and they have toured heavily in suppport of the album, so the recording break was a bit longer this time around.

It hasn´t resulted in a rushed album written under pressure though as "In Times" comes off exactly as well written and detailed as any other album released by Enslaved. Compared to it´s predecessor "In Times" features a few more black metal oriented sections (though not a dominant part of the album), but other than that it´s pretty much a natural sounding successor to "RIITIIR (2012)". So the music style is still epic sounding progressive oriented black metal with norse mythology/viking themed lyrics. The songwriting is generally of a very high quality with relatively harsh black metal sections (especially the opening track "Thurisaz Dreaming" features some pretty raw and fast-paced black metal sections) seamlessly intertwined with progressive rock/metal parts, and mid-paced epic metal sections. Keyboards, synths, mellotron, heavy riffs, tremolo picking, melodic guitar solos, clean/harsh vocals (and a few viking chants), and good rhythmic variation are some of the elements which make up the music. The tracks feature natural progressions, which never sound forced or calculated, and that´s a great strength when writing and playing music as progressive inclined as this. By now Enslaved masters this art to perfection.

"In Times" features 6 tracks and a full playing time of 53:05 minutes. All 6 tracks are around 8-9 minutes long and in the case of the title track nearly 11 minutes long, so all tracks are given room to breathe and time to develop. Again this doesn´t sound calculated but sounds more like it´s a question of where the compositions led the band while they were writing them. The adventurous and playful approach to writing material is also reflected in the obvious passion behind the delivery. It´s hard to single out any particular tracks as highlights, as they are all great in their own right, but I´d still like to give a special mention to "Building with Fire", which is an unusually melodic track, with a soaring and easily memorable melody line in the clean sung vers. The melodic vers is complimented perfectly by the relatively brutal chorus featuring growling vocals, which provide the music with a death metal touch. The epic title track deserves a mention too as a highlight.

"In Times" features an organic, powerful, and overall very well sounding production. A perfect match for the music, and upon conclusion "In Times" is a high quality release on just about every measurable parameter. Despite the progressive nature of the music, it´s an album which feels slightly more predictable than it´s predecessor though and in the end I´m not left as surprised as I was when I first listened to "RIITIIR (2012)". That doesn´t make "In Times" an inferior release to "RIITIIR (2012)", but the surprise element, which often means an artist has developed their sound a bit more than usual between albums, and which sometimes elevates an album from being brilliant to being a masterpiece creation, isn´t present on "In Times". Quality wise it´s just as great as "RIITIIR (2012)" though and fans of the sound on that album will probably greatly appreciate the sound and music style on "In Times". A 4.5 star (90%) rating is fully deserved.

ENSLAVED In Times

Album · 2015 · Black Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
bartosso
Two steps forward, one step backwards

Enslaved is a Norwegian extreme metal band that managed to carve out an admirably big niche for their bipolar "melodic/harsh" black metal, in a similar way Opeth did in the death metal milieu. Every time I try to explain how I feel about this progressive black metal sound, I find myself in an unenviable position of being for the band's ideas but against the way they're executed. You see, I've listened attentively to several of their albums so far (Vertebrae, AEO, RIITIIR and just a little bit of Isa) and the only one that actually (literally?) grabbed me by the ears, chopped them off and poured ten gallons of pure bliss into the bleeding orifices, was RITIIR... well, shit got graphic much sooner than I planned.

The problem I have with Enslaved has already struck me when I listened to AEO for the first time. A good album for sure. Its bold mixture of prog rock and quite atypical nordic black metal is intriguing, but it somehow lacks identity - quite a feat given the sheer originality of the concept - that would make it something more than just a blend of stylistic ingredients. Technically well-written as it may be, music on Vertebrea or Axioma Ethica Odini doesn't feel focused on giving any meaningful artistic impact. Black metal passages tend to drag aimlessly and mellow parts seem oddly misplaced. Now listen, if not for RIITIIR, I'd be tempted to say it's just me, a member of the mentally challenged minority for whom this stuff simply doesn't work as intended. RITTIIR, however, is a testimony to the fact that Enslaved are indeed capable of turning their ideas into an inspired, evocative, well-rounded creation, yet for some unfathomable reason they tend to keep falling short of their potential.

Now, time for In Times. To cut a long story short, In Times is a blend of the semi-classic prog rock sound of Vertebrae with the atmosphere and black metal edge of Axioma Ethica Odini plus a - regrettably - tiny spatter of RIITTIIR's spacious and adventurous eclecticism. Oh, and vanilla prog metal in the vein of Dream Theater's also here, especially in the later stages of the album, and the role it plays is sadly a leading one. Due to this fact, In Times is even more structurally complex than the previous album but that's exactly where the rub is. When form takes precedence over essence, you know something went south, amirite? I mean, some of the more "spontaneous" experiments certainly add to the experience in a good way (e.g. chants and theme progression in "Thurisaz Dreaming" and the fantastic "One Thousand Years of Rain" and "Nauthir Bleeding"), but some of the rhythmic variations seem redundant. And these irregular meters ("Building with Fire")... I mean, come on guys, even Meshuggah usually uses 4/4. It's almost like the band was afraid of being judged by a jury of prog metal elitists that would otherwise deem the album "not progressive enough, 3/10". I mean, give me a break, you made RIITIIR for fuck's sake! And it all worked just fine.

Even though some people seem to be more and more weary of the sound Enslaved keep exploring, In Times does not sound stale to me. For the most part, it is a very enjoyable progressive black metal album with a decent amount of fresh ideas and it certainly will make most die-hard fans headbang in ecstasy or at least nod their bearded (prog)heads in admiration. Sadly, while it's varied and very well written - with more clean vocals than ever - it lacks the human touch that made its fantastic predecessor so good and, well, timeless.

..::Visit my music blog: shrineofllyria.blogspot.com ::..

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