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Admittedly, I am a pretty new Enslaved fan. I first heard "Isa" on a CD named Pagan Fire. "Isa" was pretty decent, but nothing which blew me out of the water. About two months ago, I was bored and on YouTube and managed to stumble upon "I Lenker til Ragnarok" aka "In Chains Until Ragnarok" and my mind was blown! So, after listening to a few others, I rushed to download the album from Amazon because I am both cheap and impatient. I think I listened to this CD alone for nearly 2 or 3 weeks straight. Now on to Vikingligr Veldi and Hordanes Land, but that's another review.
This album starts up with one of the oddest instrumental intros I think I have ever heard. It sounds very much like marching into a misty battle field, only to encounter some sort of alien spacecraft instead of another human army. At least to me. But then again, that kind of thing is right up my alley, since I love both sci-fi and vikings. Either way, it is very pretty. A nice little foray into the incredible, furious power of "I Lenker Til Ragnarok". This song always amazes me, even though I have probably listened to it over a hundred times by now. Everything about this song is just what viking metal should be: deep, bellowing chants, a vocalist who is at least semi-high pitched, incredibly fast drums, icy guitar riffs and maybe a bit of synth thrown in for good measure. This is a song that makes you just want to go to battle.
The next two songs, "Urtical Gods" and "Ansuz Astral" are both good songs, but do not stand out to me as much as the rest of the album. Admittedly, I usually just skip over these two and head right on to my second favorite, "Nidingaslakt". At only 3 minutes and 23 seconds, this song is REALLY short for Enslaved, and most other bands in this sub genre. This song is incredible enough to make up for this. This length also makes it very convenient to repeat as many times as you can stand, which for me is about twenty at one time. The guitar riffs are perfect to windmill to, and once again, the chanting is an excellent addition. "Eit Auga Til Mimir" or "An Eye for Mimir" starts off with a furious introduction, slowing down to more melodic chanting and guitar to match. And then of course comes the ending. Beginning with this sound of a horn (or a very good replication of one), the song erupts into the same intensity as the beginning. Another excellent song. "Blodhemn", the title track throws in quite a bit of chanting, plus a much deeper, darker segment in the middle which is very lovely. I have no idea the musical technique used to make this, because I am no musician, but it is absolutely beautiful. The incredible guitar toward the end is also another great addition to this song. "Brisinghamen" is another song similar to "Nidingaslakt" in song length and speed, only with more chanting this time around and an excellent riff toward the end. But still, a great song. The final song, "Suttungs Mjod", is a lovely melodic instrumental with lots of chanting thrown in. A bit reminiscent of "Ildnatten" from "The Return of the Black Death" by Antestor, at least to me. But instead of setting something on fire, they decide to return to heavier guitars and drumming, but at a slower pace than the rest of the album. Reminds me of snow, cold, and the majestic landscape of Norway. A great way to end this album.
Overall, this CD is a work of art! It is beautiful, intense, and absolutely powerful. If you have any inclination toward a love of Viking/Black metal, you should definitely pick this up. It is a classic, and one I am so glad to have finally discovered after 6 years of listening to metal. How did it take me so long? Who knows. All I know is that I am very glad to have been awakened to Enslaved!