ENSLAVED

Black Metal / Progressive Metal / Viking 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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ENSLAVED Discography

ENSLAVED albums / top albums

ENSLAVED Vikingligr Veldi album cover 3.77 | 30 ratings
Vikingligr Veldi
Black Metal 1994
ENSLAVED Frost album cover 3.83 | 30 ratings
Frost
Black Metal 1994
ENSLAVED Eld album cover 3.72 | 30 ratings
Eld
Black Metal 1997
ENSLAVED Blodhemn album cover 3.51 | 22 ratings
Blodhemn
Black Metal 1998
ENSLAVED Mardraum: Beyond the Within album cover 3.88 | 26 ratings
Mardraum: Beyond the Within
Black Metal 2000
ENSLAVED Monumension album cover 4.26 | 26 ratings
Monumension
Black Metal 2001
ENSLAVED Below the Lights album cover 4.24 | 36 ratings
Below the Lights
Black Metal 2003
ENSLAVED Isa album cover 4.19 | 50 ratings
Isa
Black Metal 2004
ENSLAVED Ruun album cover 3.92 | 35 ratings
Ruun
Black Metal 2006
ENSLAVED Vertebrae album cover 3.98 | 43 ratings
Vertebrae
Progressive Metal 2008
ENSLAVED Axioma Ethica Odini album cover 4.22 | 56 ratings
Axioma Ethica Odini
Progressive Metal 2010
ENSLAVED RIITIIR album cover 4.34 | 47 ratings
RIITIIR
Progressive Metal 2012
ENSLAVED In Times album cover 4.18 | 22 ratings
In Times
Progressive Metal 2015
ENSLAVED E album cover 4.29 | 20 ratings
E
Progressive Metal 2017
ENSLAVED Utgard album cover 4.22 | 15 ratings
Utgard
Progressive Metal 2020

ENSLAVED EPs & splits

ENSLAVED Hordanes Land album cover 3.81 | 14 ratings
Hordanes Land
Black Metal 1993
ENSLAVED Emperor / Hordanes Land album cover 3.75 | 2 ratings
Emperor / Hordanes Land
Black Metal 1993
ENSLAVED The Forest Is My Throne / Yggdrasill album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
The Forest Is My Throne / Yggdrasill
Black Metal 1995
ENSLAVED The World Domination Live album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
The World Domination Live
Viking Metal 1998
ENSLAVED The Sleeping Gods album cover 3.68 | 21 ratings
The Sleeping Gods
Progressive Metal 2011
ENSLAVED Thorn album cover 3.60 | 9 ratings
Thorn
Atmospheric Black Metal 2011
ENSLAVED Shining on the Enslaved album cover 2.50 | 1 ratings
Shining on the Enslaved
Black Metal 2015
ENSLAVED Live In Plovdiv album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Live In Plovdiv
Progressive Metal 2017

ENSLAVED live albums

ENSLAVED Live at the Rock Hard Festival album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Live at the Rock Hard Festival
Progressive Metal 2009
ENSLAVED Roadburn Live album cover 3.75 | 2 ratings
Roadburn Live
Progressive Metal 2017

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

ENSLAVED Nema album cover 1.79 | 5 ratings
Nema
Black Metal 1991
ENSLAVED Yggdrasil album cover 3.07 | 3 ratings
Yggdrasil
Black Metal 1992
ENSLAVED Promo 94 album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Promo 94
Black Metal 1994
ENSLAVED The Watcher (Live) album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
The Watcher (Live)
Progressive Metal 2011

ENSLAVED re-issues & compilations

ENSLAVED The Wooden Box album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
The Wooden Box
Black Metal 2009
ENSLAVED The Sleeping Gods - Thorn 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
4.06 | 4 ratings
Live Retaliation
Black Metal 2003
.. Album Cover
4.33 | 3 ratings
Return to Yggdrasil: Live in Bergen
Black Metal 2005

ENSLAVED Reviews

ENSLAVED Utgard

Album · 2020 · Progressive Metal
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Kev Rowland
As with virtually every band, Norwegian group Enslaved have been through line-up changes over the years, and indeed they now have a new drummer since the last album in Iver Sandøy, yet founders and childhood friends Ivar Bjørnson (guitars) and Grutle Kjellson (vocals) are still there, as they have been now for some 30 years (the band is completed by Arve Isdal, lead guitar, and Håkon Vinje, keyboards, vocals). They first came to prominence with a split release with Emperor all the way back in 1993, but like Ihsahn, they have now come a long way from those days, although even now they still look back to their roots. They may have been a death metal band at the beginning, but now they are firmly entrenched in a progressive metal vein of their own making.

Vocals switch between clean and gruff; the keyboards provide polish, the drums are all over the place, and the guitars never stop. They are incredibly tight, witness the ending to Homebound, which is chaotic and then suddenly it comes together and ends – one would not expect that unless they were watching the timer run down. There are times when the music is more Viking in its approach, with a feeling of monks in a monastery, others it is almost pop while we also have touches of black metal as well as death, all coming together in a progressive metallic album which sounds at times as if it is different bands, not just one. The pop keyboard introduction to Urjotun could be leading us into pop, and when the New Order-style bass comes in, one could be forgiven for not knowing this was a metal band at all. But gradually the menace makes its presence felt, and it becomes something way more dramatic and frightening.

This is not an album for those who want every song to be in the same vein as the previous one, as these guys are pushing throughout. “We have albums that are steps and we have some that are milestones,” Bjørnson says and Grutle nods in agreement. “I personally think ‘Utgard’ is a milestone”. Only time will tell if they are correct, but for now, Enslaved are refusing to rest on what has gone before and with their 15th studio album are still pushing boundaries of what is expected of them.

ENSLAVED Below the Lights

Album · 2003 · Black Metal
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ssmarcus
"Progression or evolution is best served if it does not include dismissing either the past elements or the future possibilities. Being all about regression makes music rotten from the inside in the long run, while total futurism tears up roots and make the tree fall," said Ivar Bjørnson, founding member and guitarist of Enslaved, in an interview with Metal Bite when Below the Lights first dropped in 2003. While referring specifically to the philosophy behind the music on the band's latest record, Ivar's comments could easily sum up the raison d'etre of many progressive and avant-garde metal acts leading up to and immediately following the turn of the millennium. This was an era where an open frontier of metal music remained undiscovered and many Nordic acts, Norway's Enslaved included, answered the call of exploration.

Below the Lights does its part in advancing these exploratory efforts by expertly threading together the most haunting elements of mellotron based 70's prog, Viking-inspired folk, and modern black metal. Coupled with an iconic album cover and esoteric lyrics, this is a record that fosters a palpable sense of impenetrable mystery. Who exactly is trapped below that snow covered forest? How does their pain and misery square with the abject euphoric beauty explored on tracks like "The Crossing"? Who exactly is having these mystical visions of impending darkness? I am not equipped to even attempt answering these mysteries. I am content with letting that mystery permeate through the music.

Despite the above praise, I'm still unable to afford this record a perfect rating. As I have mentioned in my reviews in the passed, black metal as a style is, for my own personal taste, a liability. Compared to a death metal growl, black metal vocals are thin and grating. If death metal vocals attempt to capture the power and terror of Satan himself, black metal vocals imitate the sounds of the small imps running around stirring trouble on Satan's behalf. Additionally, black metal guitars and drums are too keen on using tremolo techniques as the foundation of entire passages. "As Fire Swept Clean the Earth" could easily have been improved had those tendencies been tamed.

ENSLAVED Utgard

Album · 2020 · Progressive Metal
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UMUR
"Utgard" is the 15th full-length studio album by Norwegian progressive black metal act Enslaved. The album was released through Nuclear Blast in October 2020, almost to the day 3 years after the release of "E (2017)". There´s been one lineup change since the predecessor as drummer Cato Bekkevold has been replaced by Iver Sandøy.

The material on "Utgard" continue in a similar progressive black metal style as the material on "E (2017)". It´s majestic, epic, melodic, dreamy, and occasionally a little more raw, but the band´s black metal roots aren´t heard that often. It´s predominantly lead vocalist/bassist Grutle Kjellson´s snarling raspy vocals and the occasional fast-paced tremolo riff and drumming, which point in that direction. Otherwise this is more a heavy and dark type of progressive metal. Kjellson´s raw vocals are complimented by Håkon Vinje´s clean vocals and harmonies. In addition to guitars, bass, and drums, the music also features an omnipresence of keyboards.

The tracks feature recognisable hooks, but are still adventurous and unconventionally structured. If you´re familiar with the last couple of releases by Enslaved, the overall sound and style of "Utgard" won´t come as a surprise, but there are couple of tracks which stand out. "Urjotun" is quite different from the remaining tracks as it´s basically a psychadelic/space rock track, and it´s refreshing to hear Enslaved try something new. Closing track "Distant Seasons" is an epic melodic track. I wouldn´t go as far as to call it a power ballad, but it feautures melodic clean vocal melodies and opens in a mellow fashion.

"Utgard" features a clear, detailed, and professional sounding production job. It´s a well sounding production, which suits the material perfectly, but personally I could have wished for a slightly less polished sound and a bit more rawness and heaviness. Enslaved are almost too nice these days and the unasuming clean vocals by Vinje aren´t particularly distinct sounding or interesting. He has a very regular sounding voice and therefore some of the clean vocal parts lack power and personality. Enslaved are in many ways the black metal equivalent to (progressive doom/death) Opeth, but regarding the clean vocals they are not up to par with Mikael Åkerfeldt´s powerful vocals and distinct sounding voice.

Other than the clean vocals being a bit bland, "Utgard" is another high quality release by Enslaved, and fans of the last couple of albums won´t be disappointed by the material featured here or by the high level performances by all involved. A 4 star (80%) rating is deserved.

ENSLAVED Utgard

Album · 2020 · Progressive Metal
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siLLy puPPy
Few metal bands keep me interested over the long haul so that i eagerly await their next release more than Norway’s ENSLAVED. This extreme metal band from Bergen has been slaying the metal world like a band of restless Vikings for almost 30 years now after having formed in Haugesund, Norway and having delivered 17 albums to date with an uncanny ability to maintain a high quality of product with only a a very few hiccoughs such as the somewhat generic “Blodhemn” or the stuck in a rut “In Times” but even those albums weren’t bad at all and simply paled in comparison to the stronger albums that surrounded them. Debuting with the first release “Vikingligr Veldi,” ENSLAVED has been instrumental in straddling the world of black metal, Viking metal and folk metal while adding increasing elements of progressive rock all the while finding innovative ways of changing things up just enough to keep their music fresh yet familiar.

Following the strong 2017 release “E,” the band returns with its 17th full-length studio album UTGARD which continues the never-ending themes and stories mined from Norse mythology. This anglicized term from the original Útgarðar refers to a formidable giant featured in the myths where Thor and Loki compete in rigged competitions held in the Outyards. It seems ENSLAVED are in no danger of running out of inspiration from these ancient tales and musically speaking sound as strong as ever. With a stronger focus on traditional folk melodic developments and a more egalitarian mix of clean and growly vocals, UTGARD is perhaps ENSLAVED’s most successful attempt at fusing the black, Viking and folk sounds with classic elements of 70s prog which includes beautiful atmospheric sweeps, keyboard drenched melodic scaffolding and occasional symphonic orchestrated lushness. While time signature complexities seem to have been tamped down, a few unorthodox angularities find their way into the mix. UTGARD in many ways focuses more on the melodic stampede of sound rather than sprawling prog behemoths and looks back to ideas gestated from the 90s along with more modern musical developments.

The opening “Fires In The Dark” wastes no time setting the tone of UTGARD with folk melodies, ritualistic chants and classic folk metal accoutrements before unleashing the black metal bombast which has been a staple of ENSLAVED’s signature sound since day one. “Jettegryta” showcases a much stronger sense of battle call backings in the form of keyboard excesses that create a perfect counterpoint to the extreme heavy metal riffing which at times such as in “Sequence” harken to the classic metal years of grooves mined from Judas Priest and Iron Maiden only teased into splendiferous Viking epic tales that include lush atmospheric extras and the call and response vocal efforts of the legendary growls of Grutle Kjellson with the suave clean contrast of Håkon Vinje. With the prog workouts are less and the metal gallops turned up a few notches, UTGARD is noticeable different than prior efforts from the start and remain that way til the very last notes of the spooky melodic touches of “Distant Seasons” and with a classic LP album running time of only shy of 45 minutes doesn’t outstay its welcome.

While prog has been a prominent feature of ENSLAVED’s agenda dating back to 2001’s “Monumension” when it became the dominant feature, on UTGARD this team of musical Vikings tends to look past the mere cliche constructs of the past and forges ahead into different prog related territories most noticeably on the the Krautrock inspired “Urjotun” which follows the even stranger two-minute “Utgardr” which teases out a Norse poetic prose accompanied by a creepy summoning of spectral sounds that emerge from places you’d probably best avoid. On “Urjotun” however ENSLAVED delves into the world of Neu! inspired motorik and adapts it nicely to UTGARD’s already established folk / prog / black metal touches. Songs also excel in brevity with only two exceeding six minutes.

With so many long established metal acts falling into the expected traps of burning out, ENSLAVED never fails to surprise me with yet another excellent release that sounds like no other even within their own canon. While few ENSLAVED albums reach the height of perfection, almost all race past the excellence mark with ease. UTGARD is absolutely no exception at all and changes things up in unexpected ways once again as this band sallies forth into its 30 year mark of Teutonic rage wrapped up in musical sui generis. With this 17th album ENSLAVED proves once again why they remain firmly perched near the top of the metal hierarchy as they inch closer to status of patron sainthood in metal circles as they seem utterly incapable of substandard musical deliveries for even a scant moment of time. It’s really hard for me to pick a favorite album by this great band since each one excels on its own merits and never wimps out despite its members getting on with their years and the greatest gift of all is that the flame of creativity only grows brighter with each release. Perhaps UTGARD will not entice new blood into the clan but it is guaranteed to please long time followers who relish the crafty balance of what came before with new innovation. ENSLAVED has another winner on its hands.

ENSLAVED E

Album · 2017 · Progressive Metal
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voila_la_scorie
One of the classic black metal bands and a favourite of Sam Dunn of Banger Films (“A Headbanger’s Journey”, “Flight 666”, “Rush – Beyond the Lighted Stage”) is Enslaved. My first venture into their catalogue was their seventh album, “Below the Lights” because it was mentioned on a list of best metal albums as well as best progressive albums. I enjoyed it enough to consider a second purchase, and though “In Times” was next on my list, along with “Frost”, I heard so many good things about “E” that I went for this one. Money well spent!

I understand well from what I’ve heard that Enslaved very early on expressed their progressive proclivities and that in the new millennium they expanded their sound into post rock. This album here expresses both of those faces of musical styles quite liberally. In fact, while I love the album as an Enslaved album, it was very easy for me to get into it because I could hear similarities to bands whose music I have already an attanchment to: Opeth, Anciients, Motorpsycho, and Devin Townsend. I also read that one member of Seven Impale joined Enslaved so that’s another bonus as far as I’m concerned.

Of course there’s the quintessential over-distorted guitar sound, speed, demonic vocals, and tenseness that comes with black metal, but also beauty and contrasts. The recording quality is superb, proving that black metal can sound magnificent once it swallows its lo-fi pride and goes for sonic brilliance.

A lot of old school extreme metal albums sound awesome but have little variety in their sound. When I think of old classics from my early teens like “Screaming for Vengeance”, “Number of the Beast”, or “Mob Rules”, each song was treated like an individual piece of work and these albums had variety. No two songs sounded alike. So it’s a great surprise and pleasure to listen to an album like this where once again I can feel that each song provides its own individual stamp on the album rather than just being a barrage of blast beats and tidal waves of distortion. With an album like this and a couple of other 21st century black metal and albums I have heard, I really think black metal has progressed and grown into an art rather than just a statement.

In the New Year, I will most certainly be looking to add two or three more Enslaved albums to my collection, possibly more.

ENSLAVED Movies Reviews

ENSLAVED Live Retaliation

Movie · 2003 · Black Metal
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FMOTP
No reviews yet & only 3 ratings for the great ENSLAVED's 1st video production? To quote Will Smith, "That...is unacceptable." Live Retaliation is a very worthy representation of ENSLAVED live. The concert itself is a bit short, but the band shows its skill in playing their varied and fairly complex music. They play a good mix of their oldest songs and more recent ones; Monumension was the band's most recent album at the time.

The audio tracks are a very nice addition, for folks who don't own a lot of their records. Grutle doesn't interact extensively with the audience in concert, beyond introducing the songs & band members. However, that's a problem I have with the great majority of live concerts. The audio quality could be clearer at times, but I'm quibbling. If you love some progressive rock along with your extreme metal, nobody does it better than ENSLAVED. This is well worth your time and money!

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