Even in the most primeval stages of their storied career, Enslaved was so much more than just music. Born on the outskirts of the infamous upheaval of teenage arsonists more commonly associated with a genre called Norwegian Black Metal, the Bergen based Vikings shared the inspiration and production ideals – yet steered clear of the non-musical dramas that have overshadowed so much of the artistic value from this movement. Shaking the very foundations of the young scene as early as 1993 with their iconic split release alongside fellow black wizards Emperor, they positively invented the term and art form Viking Metal with their icy monuments “Vikingligr Veldi” and, of course, the immortal splendor that is “Frost” and “Eld”.
Never a sucker for stagnation, Enslaved explored uncharted progressive and psychedelic territories even back in the “grim nineties” – placing them in a unique position of both bearers of tradition as well as explorers into the unknown. Now, Enslaved has become a worldwide phenomenon, enthralling their listeners with music at once grim and sublime, effortlessly proving that it is indeed not a problem at all to sound like the sophisticated love child of King Crimson and Bathory.
With the nucleus of the band still and forever consisting of childhood companions Ivar Bjørnson (guitars) and Grutle Kjellson (vocals), Enslaved have perennially and carefully reinvented, refined and progressed their highly inventive brand of extreme metal to a wholly unique level, fluently combining blistering black metal with warm prog rock and archaic folklore with psychedelic thrall.
Enter “Utgard”. Their new album is a journey into and through scary Utgard. “Utgard” shows Enslaved both unleashed and thought-through, a lethal combination unfurling a potential that’s easily rekindling the furor of their early works while dancing gracefully through their most ambitious, most haunting and most musical tunes yet.
Enslaved in 2020 is a band in stellar form, a band at its most existentialist and self-conscious, proud Bergeners bearing the torch of their hometowns’ extraordinary musical history.