Sunday, January 26, 2014

Enslaved - Eld

My favorite genre of metal at this point in my life is epic viking/folk metal. Bands like Moonsorrow, Falkenbach, Windir as well as countless others. The music is rooted in mixing folk elements into extreme metal....usually epic black metal. The lyrical content is usually centered around Germanic/Northern mythology and folklore. Of course the credit for creating this genre is usually applied to Quorthon and Bathory and I agree. However,  Norway's Enslaved came along and took the concept a step further and on Eld, they perfected it. This is epic viking metal at it's finest and, in my opinion, and has way more in common with the aforementioned bands than does Bathory.

A lot of people, it appears, have given this album rather unflattering reviews whereas I believe that this album is nothing short of perfect. No, this is not black metal but Enslaved never were a black metal band! Their music had a black metal "sound" but that's where the similarities end. Listen to Vikingligr Veldi and Frost and you will see that Enslaved were much more than black metal not to mention the lyrics not being as dark as their peers with the emphasis on Nordic Mythology. With their third full length, Eld, from the opening track "793 (slaget om Lindisfarne)" the genius of this album shows. The song starts slowly with the keys providing an orchestral sound slowly building with choral voices as the keys build the atmosphere. Acoustic and electric guitars fade up into the song along along with the rhythm section to the main riff of the song. The verse and Grutle's clean vocals can make me think of a Viking chanting a song of victory. This song is epic and shows a band expanding a genre and setting the bar for future bands. This song clocks in at 16:10 and never ceases to grab your interest. It is one of the best metal songs ever made.

The rest of the album is just as good and even expands further on the sound they were trying to create on this album...epic black metal. Yes, you can see that Enslaved were moving towards a more progressive sound with this album. But songs like "Hordalendingen", "Alfablot", and "Kvasirs Blod" unleash the black metal with blasts and killer riffs. Grutle's rasps are as powerful as ever and he adds his clean chants in there as well. The remainder of the album seems to go back into epic territory again with songs like "For Lenge Siden" and "Glemt" going in a more epic direction with less focus on playing fast and instead the focus is on creating huge compositions. Closing out the album is the title tack and is another great track that about sums up the sound on this album going from blasts to epic sounds and chants. A perfect close to the album.

I don't understand the negative press this album sometimes gets. I guess those who do not like this album are the people that think this band should have kept regurgitating Frost over and over again. I think this album sees a band maturing and giving us a taste of the further genius that is to come. I do think this band could do no wrong so it could just be my bias but I'm not so sure. This album, in my opinion, is one of the best metal albums ever made.


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