ENSLAVED — Blodhemn (review)

ENSLAVED — Blodhemn album cover Album · 1998 · Black Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
3.5/5 ·
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.
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UMUR wrote:
more than 2 years ago
Yeah I have a lot of PA reviews that I haven´t had time to edit (or in the case of most of my early reviews completely rewrite) and post on MMA yet. I´m working on it in between writing new reviews though :-)
siLLy puPPy wrote:
more than 2 years ago
I noticed you have a review on PA that goes back to 2008 but it looks like you never brought over some of your reviews that you wrote before MMA existed. I always considered this the weakest and it still is but after listening to it again a few times to write this review, like the others even this gets better after repeated listens
UMUR wrote:
more than 2 years ago
Yeah it doesn´t really feel like a progression from Eld does it? I like the thrashy rawness of it though. It´s been years and years since I reviewed the Enslaved discography. I think I´ll go back and listen and re-write my reviews at some point.

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