ENSLAVED
Black Metal / Progressive Metal / Atmospheric 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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EE
Nuclear Blast America 2017
Audio CD$9.90
$5.99 (used)
Eld (Ltd. Ed. splatter vinyl Lp)Eld (Ltd. Ed. splatter vinyl Lp)
Limited Edition
Osmose Records 2017
Vinyl$21.98
FrostFrost
Season of Mist 2008
Audio CD$11.61
$7.00 (used)
Axioma Ethica OdiniAxioma Ethica Odini
Import · Limited Edition
BACK ON BLACK 2015
Vinyl$24.28
MARDRAUM (BEYOND THE WITHIN)MARDRAUM (BEYOND THE WITHIN)
Season of Mist 2012
Audio CD$11.97
$6.06 (used)
MONUMENSIONMONUMENSION
Season of Mist 2012
Audio CD$11.97
$7.59 (used)
In Times cdIn Times cd
Nuclear Blast America 2015
Audio CD$7.47
$10.71 (used)
Frost (Ltd. Ed. splatter vinyl Lp)Frost (Ltd. Ed. splatter vinyl Lp)
Limited Edition
Osmose Records 2017
Vinyl$21.98
Below the LightsBelow the Lights
Osmose Records 2017
Audio CD$11.65
$8.53 (used)
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In Memory Of Celtic Frost CD 1996 Dwell Records enslaved, divine eve, opeth In Memory Of Celtic Frost CD 1996 Dwell Records enslaved, divine eve, opeth USD $5.00 Buy It Now 6h
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Blackend IV Metal Comp. Double CD 1999 Emperor Opeth Enslaved Witchery PROMO Blackend IV Metal Comp. Double CD 1999 Emperor Opeth Enslaved Witchery PROMO USD $5.69 Buy It Now 13h
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Beneath - Enslaved By Fear - 2012 Unique Leader Records  - 11.17 Beneath - Enslaved By Fear - 2012 Unique Leader Records - 11.17 USD $14.99 Buy It Now 20h
Enslaved - Isa - 2005 Candlelight Records USA  - 11.17 Enslaved - Isa - 2005 Candlelight Records USA - 11.17 USD $10.99 Buy It Now 21h
Thorns Vs Emperor CD 1st Press Moonfog Immortal,Enslaved,Satyricon Thorns Vs Emperor CD 1st Press Moonfog Immortal,Enslaved,Satyricon USD $9.01 (0 bids)
23h
Satyricon Dark Medieval Times 1ST PRESS LP FOG001LP Darkthrone Enslaved Mayhem Satyricon Dark Medieval Times 1ST PRESS LP FOG001LP Darkthrone Enslaved Mayhem USD $919.13 (0 bids)
23h
Enslaved E Solid Red Cassette limited to 300 Enslaved E Solid Red Cassette limited to 300 USD $18.75 Buy It Now 1 day
MEKANIK Der Mekanik Grooves CD Norwegian prog/black thrash magma zeuhl enslaved MEKANIK Der Mekanik Grooves CD Norwegian prog/black thrash magma zeuhl enslaved USD $9.98 Buy It Now 1 day
NEGURA BUNGET Tau DIGIPACK CD Romanian avant-garde black metal enslaved sigh NEW NEGURA BUNGET Tau DIGIPACK CD Romanian avant-garde black metal enslaved sigh NEW USD $19.99 Buy It Now 1 day
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ENSLAVED E + 3 JAPAN CD Borknagar Malignant Eternal Mysticum Desekrator Phobia ENSLAVED E + 3 JAPAN CD Borknagar Malignant Eternal Mysticum Desekrator Phobia USD $24.50 Buy It Now 1 day
EMPEROR Anthems To The Welkin At Dusk + 3 JAPAN CD Ihsahn Satyricon Enslaved EMPEROR Anthems To The Welkin At Dusk + 3 JAPAN CD Ihsahn Satyricon Enslaved USD $21.50 Buy It Now 1 day
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RIMFROST Veraldar Nagli CD NEW SEALED Drudkh Graveland Enslaved Ulver Rodovest RIMFROST Veraldar Nagli CD NEW SEALED Drudkh Graveland Enslaved Ulver Rodovest USD $9.99 Buy It Now 1 day
Enslaved by Fear by Beneath (CD, Jul-2012, Unique Leader Records) Enslaved by Fear by Beneath (CD, Jul-2012, Unique Leader Records) USD $9.82 Buy It Now 1 day
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Enslaved - E [Limited Edition Digipack CD] Enslaved - E [Limited Edition Digipack CD] USD $16.01 Buy It Now 1 day
ENSLAVED ENSLAVED "Bloodhemn"ORG LP on Osmose in 1998,LTD 1000 USD $69.99 Buy It Now 1 day
Blodhemn - Enslaved (CD Used Like New) Blodhemn - Enslaved (CD Used Like New) USD $11.42 Buy It Now 1 day
ENSLAVED - Yggdrasill - VINYL LP (Peaceville 2011) ENSLAVED - Yggdrasill - VINYL LP (Peaceville 2011) USD $27.99 Buy It Now 1 day
Eld by Enslaved (CD, Nov-2008, Season of Mist) Eld by Enslaved (CD, Nov-2008, Season of Mist) USD $17.82 Buy It Now 1 day
FATA MORGANA - Fata Morgana lp green wax Emperor Enslaved Mortiis  FATA MORGANA - Fata Morgana lp green wax Emperor Enslaved Mortiis  USD $20.00 (2 bids)
2 days
Enslaved - Axioma Ethica Odini [Digipak]  (CD, Nuclear Blast 2010) Enslaved - Axioma Ethica Odini [Digipak] (CD, Nuclear Blast 2010) USD $7.50 Buy It Now 2 days
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ENSLAVED - BELOW THE LIGHTS  CD NEW+ ENSLAVED - BELOW THE LIGHTS CD NEW+ USD $25.69 Buy It Now 2 days
BLOODY DONATION - VENGEANCE OF THE ENSLAVED  CD NEW+ BLOODY DONATION - VENGEANCE OF THE ENSLAVED CD NEW+ USD $16.80 Buy It Now 2 days
ENSLAVED - IN TIMES, ORG 2015 GERMAN WHITE vinyl 2LP, 300 COPIES! NEW - SEALED! ENSLAVED - IN TIMES, ORG 2015 GERMAN WHITE vinyl 2LP, 300 COPIES! NEW - SEALED! USD $25.99 Buy It Now 2 days
30 Rock / Metal CD Lot: Enslaved - Isa CD ECD 2005 Candlelight USA Records NEW 30 Rock / Metal CD Lot: Enslaved - Isa CD ECD 2005 Candlelight USA Records NEW USD $59.95 Buy It Now 2 days
2017 JAPAN CD ENSLAVED E with Bonus Track for Japan 2017 JAPAN CD ENSLAVED E with Bonus Track for Japan USD $24.80 Buy It Now 2 days
MIND PROPAGANDA / ISMARK Split CD Graveland Enslaved Dark Funeral Mist Emperor MIND PROPAGANDA / ISMARK Split CD Graveland Enslaved Dark Funeral Mist Emperor USD $9.99 Buy It Now 2 days
ENSLAVED - RIITIIR  CD  8 TRACKS HARD 'N' HEAVY / DEATH METAL  NEW+ ENSLAVED - RIITIIR CD 8 TRACKS HARD 'N' HEAVY / DEATH METAL NEW+ USD $26.01 Buy It Now 2 days
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Soulfly - Enslaved (Spec Ed + Bonus Tracks) (NEW CD) Soulfly - Enslaved (Spec Ed + Bonus Tracks) (NEW CD) USD $16.37 Buy It Now 2 days
ENSLAVED RIITIIR SEALED CD NEW ENSLAVED RIITIIR SEALED CD NEW USD $8.52 Buy It Now 2 days
ENSLAVED VERTEBRAE SEALED CD NEW ENSLAVED VERTEBRAE SEALED CD NEW USD $8.52 Buy It Now 2 days
ENSLAVED ENSLAVED "RIITIIR" CD+DVD VIKING METAL NEW++++++++++++++++ USD $19.40 Buy It Now 2 days
Vengeance Of The Enslaved, Bloody Donation CD | 5200123660012 | New Vengeance Of The Enslaved, Bloody Donation CD | 5200123660012 | New USD $13.44 Buy It Now 2 days
ELITE - KAMPEN 2004 US 1PR NEW! TAAKE KAMPFAR ENSLAVED VREDEHAMMER RAGNAROK ELITE - KAMPEN 2004 US 1PR NEW! TAAKE KAMPFAR ENSLAVED VREDEHAMMER RAGNAROK USD $9.99 Buy It Now 2 days
ENSLAVED - RIITIIR  CD + DVD HEAVY METAL NEW+ ENSLAVED - RIITIIR CD + DVD HEAVY METAL NEW+ USD $28.81 Buy It Now 2 days
ENSLAVED - MARDRAUM-BEYOND THE WITHIN  CD NEW+ ENSLAVED - MARDRAUM-BEYOND THE WITHIN CD NEW+ USD $25.69 Buy It Now 2 days
Enslaved ‎– Isa - CD - Norway / 2004 - Excellent condition Enslaved ‎– Isa - CD - Norway / 2004 - Excellent condition USD $5.99 (0 bids)
2 days
ENSLAVED - BLODHEMN  CD NEW+ ENSLAVED - BLODHEMN CD NEW+ USD $25.69 Buy It Now 2 days
Sleeping Gods:thorn - Enslaved Compact Disc Sleeping Gods:thorn - Enslaved Compact Disc USD $18.06 Buy It Now 2 days
Enslaved - Riitiir (NEW CD) Enslaved - Riitiir (NEW CD) USD $14.37 Buy It Now 2 days
ENSLAVED frost SPV 84-20392 CD 1994 OSMOSE marduk immortal Ulver ENSLAVED frost SPV 84-20392 CD 1994 OSMOSE marduk immortal Ulver USD $26.99 Buy It Now 2 days
ENSLAVED - FROST  CD NEW+ ENSLAVED - FROST CD NEW+ USD $25.69 Buy It Now 2 days
ENSLAVED - ELD  CD NEW+ ENSLAVED - ELD CD NEW+ USD $25.69 Buy It Now 2 days
Enslaved - Vertebrae [CD New] Enslaved - Vertebrae [CD New] USD $13.40 Buy It Now 2 days
Enslaved - Vertebrae [New CD] UK - Import Enslaved - Vertebrae [New CD] UK - Import USD $16.16 Buy It Now 2 days
Enslaved - The Sleeping Gods - THORN LP #106314 Enslaved - The Sleeping Gods - THORN LP #106314 USD $26.92 Buy It Now 2 days
Emperor : IX Equilibrium - Darkthrone Dimmu Borgir  Enslaved Immortal Emperor : IX Equilibrium - Darkthrone Dimmu Borgir Enslaved Immortal USD $5.43 Buy It Now 2 days
RARE These 5 Down Pre-Release EP Promo Demo CD Low Hit The Wall Enslaved Hymn RARE These 5 Down Pre-Release EP Promo Demo CD Low Hit The Wall Enslaved Hymn USD $19.99 (0 bids)
2 days
GEHENNA - Adimiron Black CD enslaved gorgoroth mayhem GEHENNA - Adimiron Black CD enslaved gorgoroth mayhem USD $29.99 Buy It Now 2 days
SOULFLY - ENSLAVED  CD HEAVY METAL MAX CAVALERA NEW+ SOULFLY - ENSLAVED CD HEAVY METAL MAX CAVALERA NEW+ USD $14.94 Buy It Now 2 days
Enslaved - Mardraum: Beyond the Within [New CD] Enslaved - Mardraum: Beyond the Within [New CD] USD $13.25 Buy It Now 2 days
ENSLAVED ENSLAVED "VERTEBRAE" 2 CD MIT PATCH & SCHLÜSSELBAND NEW+ USD $26.46 Buy It Now 2 days
Amon Amarth - The Crusher Sublimated Patch UNLEASHED ENSLAVED ENSIFERUM TYR Amon Amarth - The Crusher Sublimated Patch UNLEASHED ENSLAVED ENSIFERUM TYR USD $5.00 Buy It Now 3 days
Enslaved - Frost [New CD] Enslaved - Frost [New CD] USD $13.42 Buy It Now 3 days
Axioma Ethica Odini - Enslaved LP Axioma Ethica Odini - Enslaved LP USD $41.84 Buy It Now 3 days
Enslaved - Frost [New CD] Enslaved - Frost [New CD] USD $19.65 Buy It Now 3 days
OBLOMOV Wishing The Renaissance CD cult prog black metal w/ sax, sigh enslaved OBLOMOV Wishing The Renaissance CD cult prog black metal w/ sax, sigh enslaved USD $9.98 Buy It Now 3 days
TRINACRIA Travel Now Journey Infinitely CD Norwegian avantmetal Enslaved Fe-mail TRINACRIA Travel Now Journey Infinitely CD Norwegian avantmetal Enslaved Fe-mail USD $9.98 Buy It Now 3 days
ENSLAVED - In Times [BRAND NEW & SEALED] [LIMITED EDITION DIGI-PACK] ENSLAVED - In Times [BRAND NEW & SEALED] [LIMITED EDITION DIGI-PACK] USD $12.04 Buy It Now 3 days
Roadburn Live - Enslaved Roadburn Live - Enslaved USD $34.18 Buy It Now 3 days
Master's Hammer - Ritual LP New Behemoth Mare Enslaved Root Impaled Nazarene Master's Hammer - Ritual LP New Behemoth Mare Enslaved Root Impaled Nazarene USD $6.17 (3 bids)
3 days
Nocturnal Blood - Invocation of Spirits EP New Drudkh Hate Forest Enslaved Evil Nocturnal Blood - Invocation of Spirits EP New Drudkh Hate Forest Enslaved Evil USD $1.16 (0 bids)
3 days
Enslaved - RIITIIR CD 2012 progressive Viking metal Nuclear Blast USA Enslaved - RIITIIR CD 2012 progressive Viking metal Nuclear Blast USA USD $11.95 Buy It Now 3 days
Enslaved: Isa CD ECD 2005 Bonus Video Candlelight USA Records CDL0152CD NEW Enslaved: Isa CD ECD 2005 Bonus Video Candlelight USA Records CDL0152CD NEW USD $5.95 Buy It Now 3 days
Enslaved - Hordanes Land [CD] Enslaved - Hordanes Land [CD] USD $13.39 Buy It Now 3 days
ENSLAVED - Vertebrae CD ( OPETH , SATYRICON ENSLAVED - Vertebrae CD ( OPETH , SATYRICON USD $6.79 Buy It Now 3 days
Necrophagous Enslaved USA Cassette Tape brutal death metal demo Necrophagous Enslaved USA Cassette Tape brutal death metal demo USD $26.66 Buy It Now 3 days
Steel Attack - Enslaved (CD) 10 Tracks - Mint/New - Fast Postage - Rare Steel Attack - Enslaved (CD) 10 Tracks - Mint/New - Fast Postage - Rare USD $20.05 Buy It Now 3 days
ENSLAVED - E (LIMITED BRONZE / BONE SPLATTER VINYL / 2 LP) New Black Metal ENSLAVED - E (LIMITED BRONZE / BONE SPLATTER VINYL / 2 LP) New Black Metal USD $42.00 Buy It Now 3 days
Enslaved 13 CD   DVD Lot - See Description Enslaved 13 CD DVD Lot - See Description USD $75.00 (0 bids)
USD $100.00 Buy It Now
3 days
VARDLOKK Skraelingjahlaut LTD RED VINYL 7 VARDLOKK Skraelingjahlaut LTD RED VINYL 7" Witch ENSLAVED Doom Metal NEW! USD $9.99 Buy It Now 3 days
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ENSLAVED Discography

ENSLAVED albums / top albums

.. Album Cover 3.75 | 28 ratings
Vikingligr Veldi
Black Metal 1994
.. Album Cover 3.71 | 28 ratings
Frost
Black Metal 1994
.. Album Cover 3.67 | 29 ratings
Eld
Black Metal 1997
.. Album Cover 3.33 | 18 ratings
Blodhemn
Black Metal 1998
.. Album Cover 3.69 | 22 ratings
Mardraum: Beyond the Within
Black Metal 2000
.. Album Cover 3.97 | 21 ratings
Monumension
Black Metal 2001
.. Album Cover 4.18 | 28 ratings
Below the Lights
Black Metal 2003
.. Album Cover 4.12 | 43 ratings
Isa
Black Metal 2004
.. Album Cover 3.70 | 29 ratings
Ruun
Black Metal 2006
.. Album Cover 3.91 | 37 ratings
Vertebrae
Progressive Metal 2008
.. Album Cover 4.11 | 52 ratings
Axioma Ethica Odini
Progressive Metal 2010
.. Album Cover 4.10 | 39 ratings
RIITIIR
Progressive Metal 2012
.. Album Cover 3.89 | 14 ratings
In Times
Progressive Metal 2015
.. Album Cover 4.19 | 7 ratings
E
Progressive Metal 2017

ENSLAVED EPs & splits

.. Album Cover 3.53 | 11 ratings
Hordanes Land
Black Metal 1993
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
The Forest Is My Throne / Yggdrasill
Black Metal 1995
.. Album Cover 3.56 | 20 ratings
The Sleeping Gods
Progressive Metal 2011
.. Album Cover 3.39 | 9 ratings
Thorn
Atmospheric Black Metal 2011
.. Album Cover 2.50 | 1 ratings
Shining on the Enslaved
Black Metal 2015

ENSLAVED live albums

.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Live at the Rock Hard Festival
Progressive Metal 2009
.. Album Cover 4.00 | 1 ratings
Roadburn Live
Progressive Metal 2017

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
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Promo 94
Black Metal 1994
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
The Watcher (Live)
Progressive Metal 2011

ENSLAVED re-issues & compilations

.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
The Wooden Box
Black Metal 2009
.. Album Cover 3.50 | 1 ratings
The Sleeping Gods - Thorn
Progressive Metal 2016

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 E

Album · 2017 · Progressive Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Warthur
Enslaved's latest release is E, as in "E bah gum, in't this one a beauty?" Once again it's sure to confound genre classification nerds (is this progressive black metal or blackened progressive metal), since like much recent Enslaved material it sits right on the dividing line, but what's particularly impressive is how Enslaved have been able to heighten both sides of that equation whilst still retaining the balance.

The prog is more progressive, the blackened parts are dark as a moonless night, and the dabblings in folk have lured Einar Kvitrafn of Wardruna out of the depths of the Dark Folk Forest to come and make little contributions here and there. In short, it's exactly the sort of frothing, Viking-themed genre cocktail that we've come to expect from Enslaved, but the taste is stronger and richer and more delicious than it's been for a while - and that's a high bar to hit considering their usual excellent standards.

ENSLAVED In Times

Album · 2015 · Progressive Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Warthur
Ah, Enslaved. Are they purveyors of progressive black metal, or blackened progressive metal? They've wavered back and forth across that line over the years, but In Times to my ears sounds like it's sat on the progressive metal side of that line, largely consolidating the embellishments and improvements they'd made to their sound on albums like RIITIIR. The more aggressive and recognisably black metal-oriented compositions tend to be front-loaded to the start of the album, so as the runtime progresses you get less snarly blast beats and more progressive shoegaze-y sort of stuff.

It's unfailingly pleasant to listen to, but it doesn't do anything we haven't heard Enslaved already extensively dabble in. If you just want more Enslaved - and I can't fault your taste if you do - it's no disappointment, but it's not where I'd point people as a first port of call to explore their music.

ENSLAVED E

Album · 2017 · Progressive Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Nightfly
I’ve always viewed the development of Opeth and Enslaved as running parallel with each other. Both started as extreme metal bands, death metal for Opeth, black metal for Enslaved and both even at an early stage displaying progressive influences. As they have developed the progressive elements have come to more to the fore. One of the areas where they differ though is whilst Opeth these days bear no traces of death metal Enslaved have never entirely lost touch with their roots. Sure, they’re much more of a prog metal band these days but their black metal roots can still be heard.

E is Enslaved’s fourteenth studio album, drawn as a Latin rune which is why it appears as M on the cover meaning Horse. The albums not about Horses per se but is symbolic of the partnership of co-operation and trust between them and man. 2015’s In Times was their most progressive album yet but still managed inject some pretty harsh black metal moments. E whilst maintaining the prog quotient is less reliant on extreme metal though it’s still there and Grutle Kjellson harsh rasp vocal work is still in place. In Times was the last album to feature keyboard player/clean vocalist Herbrand Larsen and I expected a major shift in dynamics and sound with his loss. New guy Hakon Vinje slips easily into his shoes and has a similar clean vocal style so E just seems like a natural development which could and probably would have happened even if Larsen hadn’t left.

The music on E is epic and grandiose shifting through a myriad of changes no better demonstrated than on opener Storm Son, at almost eleven minutes giving them ample opportunity to stretch out. Clean vocals dominate over harsh here and their sound is a lot smoother than the Enslaved of old but they can still pack a punch. Kjellson’s rasp is still present and more to the front on other songs though like on The River’s Mouth that has a spacey outro that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Hawkwind album.

Sacred Horse might just be the albums best track where more extreme metal elements come to the fore but includes a Hammond organ solo that Opeth would be proud of. Light and shade are present but largely it drives along at a fair pace. That said E has no weak moments and shows a band on top of their game with no sign of running out of ideas. The musical interplay between band members is strong as always and like most great bands Enslaved aren’t afraid to experiment – they even use saxophone on album closer Hiindsiight, but still retain enough of their original identity to keep older fans happy.

E just keeps getting better and better with each play as more subtle melodies come to the fore and whilst it probably won’t end up being my favourite Enslaved album it not lacking in any way. It’s great to see this excellent band still on top of their game after all these years.

ENSLAVED E

Album · 2017 · Progressive Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
siLLy puPPy
It’s always an exciting day when one of your favorite and most consistent metal bands releases an album and continues that exciting thrill of anticipation of whether they will continue their lengthy run as ambassadors of the extreme metal scene after more than two decades on the scene or the unthinkable of botching their rein and utterly teeter off that precarious precipice that they ride like a skateboarder sliding down a staircase railing. As the decade runs closer to its end Norway’s ENSLAVED took only two years to craft yet another installment into their progressive black metal universe after the release of 2015’s “In Times” which left more than a few loyal fans divided over exactly where they saw the band was heading next. While true that the album continued down the path of the expected quality material, there was still that lurking nagging feeling that perhaps ENSLAVED is just one tiny step away from completely derailing into pools of stagnation and ultimately becoming the feared and dreaded parodies of themselves. In 2017 the band emerge from their cocoon of secrecy and let loose their 14th full-length studio album E.

With an album title so truncated to one mere letter, it automatically triggers that WTF response and thankfully Ivar Bjørnson has explained this nebulous concept to smother any possible misconceptions in their nascency. E apparently has a dualistic meaning, firstly being a letter of the Latin alphabet but is also a reference to the rune Ehwaz which is depicted as our letter M (note both letters on album cover painted by long time associate Truis Espedal.) Ehwaz simply means horse and the relationship with humankind’s most endearing animal friend that celebrates one of our longest cross-species collaborations. Once you get past all the horse symbology, the title and tracks included expand further into the symbolisms of the duality of humankind and nature as well as fear and subconscious drive all wrapped up in the expected Viking imagery constructed through poetic prose in both gurgling raspy utterances as well as clean Gregorian chant inspired harmonies that exude a beauty and beast combo effect only this is bro style.

As evidenced from the sneak peak video for the first track “Storm Son,” ENSLAVED have entered new sonic arenas indeed and have once again taken all the different styles they’ve accumulated over their vast career and simply expanded them into new territory as if they take their Viking expansionist roots and simply apply those principles to conquering new musical territory. As E begins, i was expecting the immediate bombast of heaviness before meandering into softer passages of folky and ambience atmospheric touches but E takes a totally different approach than past offerings. This one begins with the sensual sounds of birds and the blowing of a gjallarhorn before horses whinny and clomp along insinuating a battle scene to come, however the track unexpectedly delivers a clean dreamy guitar riff that delivers the ultimate head scratcher making me wonder if these guys have pulled an Ulver on us and went post-rock or some non-metal direction as the repetitive riffs churn on augmented by an atmospheric ambience swirling around every arpeggiated note. Goodbye black metal ENSLAVED, hello progressive rockers who have always lurked beneath the noisefest. Oh, wait there’s those raspy vocals on top of the clean angelic choral. (then once again the riff ratchets up in intensity but this isn’t quite the metal i was expecting) as Grutle Kjellson takes the lead with his raspy evil-as-fuck vocal style. As the synthesizers swirl around and the staccato guitar riffs pound on like Teutonic marches on Prussian plains it seems that ENSLAVED has gone Opeth on us and finally divorced the black metal aspects that have carried them this far into the 21st century minus those raspy vocals of course. But wait! This is progressive black metal and nothing happens too quickly in this world. Finally at seven minutes in the black metal guitars and bass kick in with synchronized drums and yeah baby! Oops, i jumped to conclusions. This is black metal for PATIENT fans :p After a rough start things seem on track once again although the atmospheric synths and staccato guitar riffs are totally uncharacteristic of the ENSLAVED sound. This band has decided to carry on into new even more progressive arenas. Will the fickle black metal fans like this? Probably not. As “The River’s Mouth” takes the baton, the black metal groove is back at first but alternates substantially with the progressive metal segments that sound more like something out of a post-metal sludge band’s canon than anything ENSLAVED has tackled. It doesn’t take long to figure out that this is a band always looking for parameters to overstep while breaking rules and worshipping runes and on E the floodgates have opened.

Many surprises lurk on E which is of course the key ingredient (surprise that is) to keep things spiced up. For example, “Sacred Horse” begins like a hippie dippy folk track for a few seconds but then bursts into the more familiar extreme metal sound of past glories. “Axis Of The Worlds” has a very different sort of groove than the band is used to with a much more sophisticated labyrinthine and circuitous riffing methodology that ratchets up their progressive rock aspects even further and with the mellotron organ sounds that accompany may raise the red flag for a progressive pollen attack for those allergic to the world of progressive rock but somehow once again the band walks that thin line between the black and prog worlds all the while including some bizarre electronica sputtering in the background reminiscent of electropop bands like Röyksopp whose cover they tackle with the rhetorical self-directed question “What Else Is There?” “Fathers Of Eolh” is probably the most un-ENSLAVED sounding track on E with its heightened 5/4 timing sludgy riffs, ambient shoegaze backdrop and liturgical proggy vocal styles mostly delivered in a clean, clear yet turgid display of interweaving compositional parts that are laced together in various alternating ways. “Hiindslight” is yet another progressive metal behemoth that tackles hitherto unexplored arenas as it churns out complex guitar riffs that range from brutal to sensual and graced by the raspy vocals of Kjellson. This is the track that will for sure act as the sunlight that scares the black metal vampires into their coffins as it incorporates a whirlwind of progressive features including the unthinkable use of flute and saxophone. “Djupet” is another more traditional track tacked on to appease the hardcores.

You may be wondering just how progressive can they possible get. Well before you get your knickers in a twist and cry out that they’ve totally gone Opeth on us, it should never be forgotten that ENSLAVED was always a progressive black metal band which began with their debut album “Vikingligr Veldi” and despite tamping down the progressive qualities on their next three albums, “Frost,” “Eld” and “Blodhemn” they nevertheless persisted under the surface before finally erupting once again in full pent-up fury on 2000’s “Mardraum: Beyond The Within” only to have the progressive aspects outweigh the black metal from “Monumension” and the albums that followed. The fact is that unlike Opeth who utterly abandoned their extreme metal roots to focus exclusively on progressive rock, ENSLAVED never for even a single album smothered the black metal out of their overall sound. While it’s true the black metal has taken a back seat to the progressive side of the coin, it’s more akin to the band having a new lover move in while banishing the ex to the basement only to be chained up but kept around because she’s still useful for all those chores around the house.

Yeah, the black metal may be the ugly ex-wife who is forced to perform as an indentured servant but she still has a role to play while ENSLAVED’s promiscuous Hugh Hefner tendencies take on a musical libido all their own. Keep in mind that the band’s name is ENSLAVED and not “Emancipated.” Set free the black metal and we’re left with an Age of Aquarius la-la-la singalong feel good album. Now that wouldn’t be very metal now would it? While ENSLAVED has not gone Opeth on us, it can be argued they’ve followed in the same footsteps another fellow Norwegian and gone insanely Ihsahn on us instead. You don’t believe me? For anyone who has kept up with Emperor’s frantic frontman as a solo artist, you will hear lots of parallels with albums ranging from “The Adversary” to “Arktis,” not only in the highly complex time signature rich riffing styles but in the addition of unorthodox metal instruments with the inclusion of flautist Daniel Mage and sax blower Kjetil Møster on the tracks “Hindsight” and “Feathers Of Eolh” and also the inclusion of fellow Norwegian Einar Kvitrafn from the Nordic dark folk outfit Wardruna. OK, i lied. There is one moment of going Opeth and that is the short use of mellotron style keyboard sounds at the end of “Sacred Horse.” This is probably one of the parts of the album that doesn’t exactly sound like it’s at home here and i concur that this should have been aborted before birth, but we should never let a few moments of awkwardness destroy the big picture.

Ultimately i’m finding E is about contrast and tension. There are simple clean parts that are unlike anything the band has done but somehow after slowly emerging elements, the band always resolves itself with the heavier and more frantic dynamics delivering fairly balanced compositions that perhaps can carry on a wee bit too long at points but still never entering the extremities of the uncomfortableness zone. It goes without saying that ENSLAVED alienated the one-dimensional kvlter-than-thou crowds long ago when the scales tipped in the progressive metal direction and with E, the band challenges their fans once again and therefore the close-minded, musically illiterate and those who simply get complacent in a particular phase will probably piss all over this one, however if dissected like a laboratory rat in order to scrutinize the inner parts, E is actually the logical next frontier for ENSLAVED to venture into. As the band continues to mature it would be pathetic for them to linger in pastures already explored and personally i much prefer a band to delve into new arenas despite less than perfect results than stagnate in festering doldrums of inertness. E may not constitute the absolute pinnacle of the career of ENSLAVED but i’m finding this to have much more of a return value than “In Times” and offers yet another creative and excellent rung in their long ladder of musical development since their humble beginnings during the second wave of early black metal.

ENSLAVED Mardraum: Beyond the Within

Album · 2000 · Black Metal
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The last decade of the 20th century saw a major split between the strains of extreme metal that had gestated into more distinct subgenre categories at the end of the 80s. By the mid 80s, black, death, doom and progressive metal were well on their way to become fully developed subgeneres splitting off from the parents at an astonishing rate like amoebas gracefully undergoing meiosis in a petri dish. While the majority of extreme metal bands were satisfied in pigeonholing themselves into one newly found subgenre or another, others couldn’t quite decide which way to proceed, so they chose more than one. The world of ENSLAVED owes a major debt to the sonic realities created by fellow Scandinavian Quorthon who under the guise of his band Bathory introduced the world to black metal and then once again moved on to the world of Viking metal which emphasized traditional Scandinavian folklore, mythology and instrumentation while eschewing the expected anti-Christian vitriol and Satanic church burning shenanigans that were plaguing the Norwegian extreme metal world in the early 90s.

Even on their debut “Vikingligr Veldi” ENSLAVED were entertaining the notion of expanding beyond the quickly ossifying expectations of subgenre conformity and although they retreated a couple steps back with their next few albums “Frost,” “Eld” and “Blodhemn” that deemphasized the progressive touches in favor of more Viking themed black metal ferocity, on their fifth album MARDRAUM - BEYOND THE WITHIN, the band had a rekindling, or more accurately explosive discharge of the creative pent up energy that was captured on their debut and was ready for prime time for a new millennium unfolding. The sonic evolution heard on MARDRAUM (Norwegian for “nightmare”) is not only crushing in its sonic bombast but pulverizes the status quo of subgenre categorization as it unapologetically incorporates the fiercest black metal ferocity with Viking metal themes that unfold seemingly accessible riffing styles into insanely complex beasts of progressiveness. The world of metal could hardly see one his coming.

With an opening that reminds more of the Cocteau Twins than the second wave of black metal, ENSLAVED were breaking the chains of sonic subjugation and unfurling their victory flag in the defeat of complacency. While “Større enn Tid - Tyngre enn Natt“ may bring space pop to mind at first, it quickly delivers the old one, two punch of Ivar Bjørnson and Roy Kronheim’s blistering dual guitar abuse and while technically dishing out the same riff, the duo usher in a totally revolutionary methodology of incorporating subtle distinctions between their counterpoints and offer a sonic storm of creative interpretations. In fact every musician involved on MARDRAUM is firing on fully fueled pistons as Grutle Kjellson pounds out unbelievable bass lines while Dirge Rep unleashes his mastery of drum abuse unlike anything heard on ENSLAVED’s previous canon. MARDRAUM is in effect the heaviest album the band had done at the time and remains so to date despite offering a clairvoyant peek into the world of progressive metal that they would elucidate on future releases beginning with the followup “Monumension” which includes interludes into clean vocal folk extravaganzas as well as cleverly placed ambient wizardry. Of course the black metal raspy vocals are on full display and have never sounded as energized as they do here.

MARDRAUM can be considered a musical transubstantiation of sort in its own right for providing the bridge between the Viking themed black metal phase of ENSLAVED’s long and enduring career and the progressive black metal to occur after, but more than anything MARDRAUM proves to be a pinnacle of black metal creativity at the turn of the millennium showing ENSLAVED break away from the gravitational pull of their influences and finding the free range of musical independence which MARDRAUM displays in full regalia. Although steeped in black metal buzzsaw fury with blastbeat prowess and earache inducing decibelage, this collection of eleven tracks stampedes like a cavalry of warriors on horseback laying waste to any unfortunate bystanders in their trajectory. Personally i find the millennium turnover era of ENSLAVED to be their absolute best beginning with this final chapter of their most ferocious and aggressive stage of their career and MARDRAUM delivers all the goods in an amazing and precise manner. One of, if not my favorite ENSLAVED album.

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