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$7.32
$8.18 (used)
RiitiirRiitiir
Nuclear Blast Americ 2012
Audio CD$3.87
$3.99 (used)
VertebraeVertebrae
Nuclear Blast Americ 2008
Audio CD$6.05
$3.48 (used)
RuunRuun
Import
Imports 2008
Audio CD$6.46
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IsaIsa
Candlelight 2005
Audio CD$3.99
$4.99 (used)
MonumensionMonumension
Season of Mist 2009
Audio CD$9.69
$9.68 (used)
Axioma Ethica OdiniAxioma Ethica Odini
Nuclear Blast America 2010
Audio CD$3.90
$3.89 (used)
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Season of Mist 2009
Audio CD$8.63
$6.07 (used)
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Season of Mist 2008
Audio CD$8.97
$8.96 (used)
In TimesIn Times
Nuclear Blast Americ 2015
Vinyl$21.83
$41.07 (used)
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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 3.63 | 20 ratings
Eld
Black Metal 1997
.. Album Cover 3.35 | 13 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 | 21 ratings
Below the Lights
Black Metal 2003
.. Album Cover 4.23 | 36 ratings
Isa
Black Metal 2004
.. Album Cover 3.68 | 24 ratings
Ruun
Black Metal 2006
.. Album Cover 3.85 | 33 ratings
Vertebrae
Black Metal 2008
.. Album Cover 4.07 | 45 ratings
Axioma Ethica Odini
Black Metal 2010
.. Album Cover 4.19 | 30 ratings
RIITIIR
Black Metal 2012
.. Album Cover 3.82 | 3 ratings
In Times
Black Metal 2015

ENSLAVED EPs & splits

.. Album Cover 3.65 | 9 ratings
Hordanes Land
Black Metal 1993
.. Album Cover 3.60 | 18 ratings
The Sleeping Gods
Black Metal 2011
.. Album Cover 3.39 | 8 ratings
Thorn
Black Metal 2011
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Shining on the Enslaved
Black Metal 2015

ENSLAVED live albums

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

.. Album Cover 1.70 | 4 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 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 ::..

ENSLAVED In Times

Album · 2015 · Black Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Nightfly
Not being much of a fan of Black Metal I didn’t pay a lot of attention to Enslaved’s earlier albums, the earliest one in my collection being 2004’s Isa. As good an album as that is, to my ears they have got better and better on each subsequent release as the prog quotient has increased to the highpoint of 2012’s Riitiir. In Times has a similar lush production to Riitiir but with just 6 tracks they have upped the prog elements even more.

Despite the prog elements Enslaved have still managed to not lose sight of their black metal roots as opener Thurisaz Dreaming certainly demonstrates coming straight in with frantic blastbeats and bassist Grutle Kjellson rasping black metal vocal style. Like the entire album the vocals alternate between Kjellson and keyboard player Herbrand Larsen’s cleaner vocal style which has improved greatly over recent releases.

While there are lighter moments extreme metal fans will be pleased to know that In Times contains some of the most brutal music I’ve heard from Enslaved, the dynamics of the songs giving the heavier sections even greater impact. The rich production does the music justice, so much better than the thin weedy sound of much black metal, the brutal riffing complimented by the lush keyboard textures. The songs twist and turn through numerous inventive changes keeping it all fresh and captivating, the eleven minute title track being particularly effective.

Fans of extreme prog metal are going to snap this one up and the bar has been set for prog metal album of the year. In Times is a stunning album that will reward with repeated listens, quite possibly their best yet. Perhaps it’s now time for me to start investigating those earlier Enslaved albums.

ENSLAVED Frost

Album · 1994 · Black Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
siLLy puPPy
Right from the getgo ENSLAVED were reinventing their sound as evidenced by the extreme change from their debut “Vikingligr Veldi” with its long and hypnotic black metal synthesized fury into the more standard second wave black metal on FROST that encompasses a more traditional aggressive sound that can be heard in the likes of Darkthrone and Emperor. The music here has also taken a leap in the progressiveness. Although the tracks are more aggressive and attempt to blend into the second wave of black metal more, it is also a step up from the debut album in how ENSLAVED can simultaneously blend in and blend out. Once again this unique band is proving that it is anything but the norm.

On FROST we get a more furious black metal approach with the inclusion of synthesized interludes and folk offerings to boot. The chord progressions are upped on the progometer as is the enjoyment factor. This second offering took me a little longer than most to appreciate because of the fact i got into ENSLAVED well after this was released, but as a rabid fan of the black metal scene i am quite enthralled by the prowess of delivery on this one. True it may not have hit me upon first listen and actually took longer than any ENSLAVED release to leave its impression but one day i suddenly found myself really in admiration of the musical delivery heard here.

Although ENSLAVED have been more known and appreciated for their prog adventures in the black metal world, it is here on FROST where the full fury of black metal can be heard with Trym Torson who is better known with Emperor is on full display with his percussive fury adding the depth of bombast that makes this album oh so satisfying. At this stage ENSLAVED were still very much into their primeval Viking metal that even then set them apart from other Viking metal bands that tended to dwell in the death metal camp. Any way you slice it, this is a decent and satisfying black metal release that early on proved that ENSLAVED were quite capable of delivering a new approach on every single album, albeit not fully realized until the 2000s. Perhaps one of my lesser favorite releases but it seems to me that every release in this prolific band’s discography is essential.

ENSLAVED Vikingligr Veldi

Album · 1994 · Black Metal
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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.

ENSLAVED Hordanes Land

EP · 1993 · Black Metal
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ENSLAVED's first official release HORDANES LAND came out as an EP just a year after their 2nd demo “Yggdrasill.” It was released independently at first and then a few weeks later also as a split with the first Emperor EP. I have the remastered edition that was released in 2004 with the debut album “Vikingligr Veldi.” The lineup is the same with the two founders Ivar Bjørnson on guitar, keyboards and vocals and Grutle Kjellson handling bass. Trym Torson is still on board on drums.

There has been a major leap in songwriting on this first release as the three tracks are much more varied and complex than the demos. The track “Allfáðr Oðinn” which is included on this EP was the strongest and most progressive on “Yggdrasill” and the band recognized that and used it as the template for their further evolution down the path of ever more progressive black metal. Already at this stage they have a unique sound that despite keeping the basics of second wave black metal in tact, they offer a whole variety of ideas that is layered upon it.

From the opening track “Slaget...” that offers a somewhat artificial sounding choral chant we get a strange keyboard progression that is actually quite catchy and succeeds in overpowering a brutal buzzsaw wall-of-sound with the typical black metal style of shrieks and growls for vocals. The track also shows a much more epic approach in the music as it is divided into three distinct acts and just creeps over the 13 minute mark. In addition to brutal black metal parts there are slow sections that even have classical acoustic guitar sections in the mix. The other two tracks are no less brutal in their delivery, catchy in their hooks or progressive in their developments. They both are well over the 7 minute mark.

The production is still lo-fi but not as so as on the demos. I find myself listening to this EP a lot for although it lacks the complexity of 21st century releases by the band, it is a satisfying listen that is interesting for its own sake as well as putting the band's history in some sort of context. I enjoy this early period of ENSLAVED just as much as the later releases. This is a surprisingly well crafted musical experience and this is only the band's first release. It demonstrates that the band not only mastered the brutality of black metal but that they could also adapt it to include some truly interesting and diverse elements. For me this is beyond for collector's only and I highly recommend this.

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