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 slightly more experimental and progressive form of black metal which has elements of 1970's progressive rock. 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. Read more on Last.fm
It might have been difficult for a Black Metal fan to have heard of these guys, a couple of years ago. Enslaved, a Norwegian Black Metal band that has stepped outside the all too common “let’s burn the church down” (Both literally and metaphorically) underground, keeping the same rebellious insightful edge and channeling their anger wisely into their lyrics and Music.
I will not bore you with a summary of how Enslaved came to be, instead I will stick to discussing their recent releases on both the Musical and lyrical levels.
Enslaved has been making their steady ascend towards prominence, becoming a solid figure in the Black Metal underground even though they have followed their own route adopting subtle themes for their lyrics. These guys don’t only create Music about their viking heritage, but they also look like grand warriors trapped in the 21st century.
With their last release in 2008, Vertebrae. The band keeps setting itself apart from the rest of the prevalent Black Metal scene in Norway, becoming more international and more “audience friendly” but extremely witty and talented nevertheless.
This last composition by Enslaved is more melodic than its predecessors with more progressive elements. It is this induced variety that makes Vertebrae ever so enjoyable, proving that growth is as important as consistency. If you compare it to their earlier releases, Vertabrae certainly isn’t as raw and was forged with a less than an “in your face” approach by the Norwegian Musicians.
It must be pointed out that the song titles in this record foreshadow the dominant feeling that is to be discovered…
02.To the Coast
Enslaved’s fascination with nature and it’s mighty force has very well reached its golden era through Vertebrae.
Somewhat bright ambiances mark the very initiation of the record, as the first track “Clouds” builds up progressively in preparation for a very catchy guitar riff that will certainly grab you in anticipation as the rest of the song uncovers. It is evident that to fit the general record atmosphere, clear vocals were incorporated more abundantly to be shattered against the very well known Enslaved high pitched guttural vocals…
“To the Coast” can be described as “darker” than “Clouds” right from the beginning, the Metal pioneers proceed to deliver a dark song embracing the ambiguous.
“Ground” is a peculiar Enslaved track, except considering the experimental nature of Vertebrae, it fits just right unfolding Enslaved influence with lighter and older Rock eras. Also contains a heart-felt well delivered solo as well…
Another well delivered and dark melodic track is “Vertebrae” keeping a steady beat first 2:40 minutes of the song. But even in its tranquility and melodic vocals, it maintains the dark atmosphere with cleverly inserted keys.
“New Dawn” starts out with a very promising intro, a promising underground sounding guitar effect that bursts out into a very catchy old-school melody until the chorus hits. That’s when things get a little chaotic and one looses grip over instruments’ singularity. However, the disappointment doesn’t last long, the song kicks back into the intro riff to introduce another well crafted build up with mesmerizing clear vocals. A great track when broken down, but not Enslaved’s best as an overall view.
Next comes “Reflection”, another great riff idea introduced in this 7:44 minutes song. Yet, when you listen to Vertebrae as a whole and considering the length of the song “Reflection” doesn’t appear to be a key song in the record. Like an indication of the inevitable end of the Vertebrae journey…
The mellowest track on the record, yet the most haunting of which. “Center” marks Enslaved’s new approach to the ominous and vague. Screatchy whispers dominate the song, until it all explodes for a brief moment before the haunting mood settles back again till the end of the song. With the prevalent unsettling atmosphere this song has, I personally find it to be very empowering.
Finally, to bring the journey to an end, comes “The Watcher” (A very subtle title). Another example as to why “Vertebrae” is an all round Epic journey.