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In the old day, before the prominence of the internet, there were times when one had to make a judgment of an album based on the cover art, hoping that it would serve as an indication as to whether or not the music was any good. Sometimes it worked, yet every now and then this method would fail. In the case of Enslaved's third full-length, the ridiculously lame cover should serve as a warning to not bother listening to this. Released in March 1997, Eld came a few years after Frost and showed that the band had acquired new interests and had returned to the scene with a somewhat different approach. Those that were hoping for a continuation of the early material were sadly disappointed.
Where does one start with such an irritating record? The production is terrible and not in a good way. It is difficult to believe that Pytten had anything to do with this, as the sound is all wrong for this material. There is too much open space between the instruments, as if they are somehow not connected, properly. Even on tracks where they go for a full-on black metal assault, the mix seems more geared for a simple rock band and the whole thing is just totally neutered. The drums are too loud in the mix, which makes the disconnect all the more noticeable. The guitar tone is not all that bad, but the overall sound does not match the style of music that is being played.
As for the material itself, Enslaved really lost their way on this one. Either they failed to accomplish that which they set out to do or they were actually trying to make something totally horrid and bereft of any value, whatsoever. The opener, "793 (Slaget Om Lindisfarne)", clocks in at over sixteen minutes and doesn't feature a single enjoyable moment. Right from the onset, the band decided to challenge the patience of the listener, bombarding you with all of the new elements that they chose to embrace; i.e. an overflow of clean vocals, acoustic passages, more of a folk-like vibe. This is usually a sign of a band that was not that committed to what they were doing in the first place, having run out of ideas and needing to find some sort of gimmick. In this case, all of the new additions helped them gain praise from those that see such nonsense as progressive and thoughtful. Some tracks, like "Hordalendingen" and "Alfablot", try to inject some of the old intensity into things, but the execution and production really prevent this from ever happening. And, of course, the use of keyboards and clean vocals has to be ever-present. There doesn't appear to be a single pure black metal song on the album, which is really what they needed since their brand of 'Viking Metal' is so disappointing.
Eld represents the exact moment when Enslaved became completely irrelevant to the black metal scene and began to belong to some faux-progressive movement, populated by musicians that had utterly lost any and all sense of purpose and were content to start throwing things against the wall to see what stuck. There were certainly hints that this might happen, particularly on Frost, but it is doubtful that anyone could have predicted such an atrocity. Avoid this.
Written for http://ritesoftheblackmoon.tripod.com
Following up from the mighty Frost, Enslaved's third full-length Eld sees the band expanding upon the sound and style laid down on Frost. Here Enslaved become a little more progressive, and embrace their Viking elements quite a bit more.
Eld proved one of the more difficult Enslaved albums for me to get into, what I really wanted was something in the way of a Frost part two, and while there are a lot of nuances and throwback ideas to that album, Eld is an altogether completely different beast. Opening up with the admittedly convoluted "793 (Slaget Om Lindisfarne)" this track occupies just over sixteen minutes of the album's length and has always struck me as a peculiar opener. It takes a good four minutes to actually get going and a couple more still before the band begin to ignite although once they do, things get pretty damn menacing and there is certainly a bit of that Frost mentality to be heard.
I've found the cooler moments of Eld to be in the tracks following the opener, and we see plenty of Enslaved's unique style of black metal. I really admire the band's bizarre riffage and "Hordalendingen" really nails the band's black metal side well, certainly one of the more bad ass cuts on Eld. We have further moments of incredible black metal throughout "Alfablot" and "For Lenge Siden", but really pretty much everything after the opener shows why I love this band.
As with Frost the drumming here is absolutely superb, and it really punches a hole through your chest, definitely some of the best black metal sticks work around. The guitars are brilliant and multi-faceted, with peculiar riff work that really gave this band their identity in the mid 90's. Grutle's vocals are stellar here, perfectly envenomed and scathing.
I think overall that Eld was trying to build a bridge between the gargantuan arrangements displayed on Vikingligr Veldi and the furious face-ripping magic awoken on Frost whilst also pushing towards new horizons. On the whole I do think this works quite well, and Eld certainly boasts enough merit to warrant a purchase. I probably wouldn't recommend this album to start with the band, as Enslaved presented better offerings before and after, however I would say this was a mandatory purchase to fans of the band, as well as black and Viking metal fans. Recommended.
Originally written for http://www.metalcrypt.com
It speaks volumes of a band's capabilities when I can search their entire discography and not find a single full-length album I dislike, especially when that catalog covers an impressive 20 years. That said, there is always the inevitable low point in any saga, and long have I felt that Eld occupied that niche for Enslaved. Ambitious and evolutionary, like any of their individual releases, Eld (or 'Fire') was presumably meant as a thematic companion to the band's excellent sophomore Frost, only the range of content here is more varied and polished than either of the album's predecessors. And yet, this is one of those rare efforts that seems to grow progressively less compelling the further one journeys into its run time. Where it opens on an incredibly high note, the inspiration and variation of the work seems to plateau within the first half hour, and then crack on the last 30 minutes.
That's not to imply that there is a complete dearth of highlights located deeper in the track list, but most of its more poignant composition and technique seems fully extrapolated and front loaded within the massive 16 minute opener, "793 (Slaget Om Lindisfarne)". A memorable and hypnotic synthesizer pattern is subtly layered with choir-like keys and plunky electronic percussion to a ghostly effect, gradually panning into textures both martial and sorrowful before the wave samples and acoustics herald the metallic floe. While Enslaved were no aliens to melody on the first two albums, here you will note the increased use of Grutle's clean tones becoming a prevalent factor on the album, and the riffing exhibits a blissful escape like what we'll grow to expect from most of their 21st century output. Though the patterns are simple, and his range is rather limited, Kjelsson still proves himself a worthwhile crooner, never straying from his own boundaries, and yet nothing can really save "793" from an inevitable feeling of excess repetition in the largely instrumental passages at its tail end...
Of course, this is not Enslaved's first waltz with metallic superstructures, but this time the girth dwarfs even that of "Slaget I Skogen Bortenfor" from the Hordanes Land EP. The guitars are among the more attractive on this album, but I'm not sure it fully justifies its vastness, and it is telling that the extended keyboard is one of its real highlights. Other strong songs here include "Hordalendingen (The Man from Hordaland)", which has some exciting and interesting tremolo riffing, and some resonant, atmospheric rasps in conjunction with the more soothing clean vocals; and "Alfablot", which has a dreamy bridge section driven by a copious distorted bass-line. If I had to choose a victor from the latter half of Eld, it'd be "Glemt (Forgotten)", which seems a very well balanced piece with a few streaming guitar lines that really capture the imagination. Aside from this though, I've never been all that enamored of "For Lenge Siden (A Long Time Ago)", "Kvasirs Blod" or the titular closer.
Strong drumming, reasonably thought out note progressions, solid technique, but most of these remind why I found huge swaths of Vikingligr Veldi to be less engrossing than I might have hoped. There is a comparable streak of savagery running through this album to its conceptual sibling Frost, and yet that album was incontrovertibly more rapid, ripping and unforgiving in its delivery, all part of why it remains my favorite of the band's works in the 90s. Eld is unarguably more diverse and accessible, with a stronger overall production, but it lacks the charm, hostility and wintry depth, all of which I might overlook if the actual songs were better. Atop of that, I just don't feel all the 'Fire' about this album. Sure there is some war, some burning, and the title track features the element strongly in its lyrics, but I never felt in the slightest bit singed. Eld is adventurous, and its authors talented, but it's not nearly their best work.
After two albums that varied quite a bit in their respective approaches, Enslaved took a break from album making for a few years before coming out with their third album, 'Eld'. As with virtually every chapter in this Norwegian black metal band's history, there are a variety of sounds and developments in the band's formula. Wandering boldly out of the black metal territory into a more progressive region of music, 'Eld' hints at the sound that Enslaved would later more wholesomely adopt with albums like 'Mardraum' and 'Below The Lights'. without completely jumping into it. While some see this album as being a great mix of the older black metal, or later progressive sounds, 'Eld' personally strikes me as an album that comes up short in both worlds, lacking the dynamic or complexity of the later, while being light on ferocity and the atmosphere of the first two albums. Although 'Eld' is still a correct step forward for Enslaved, it is a fairly rough transition, and as a result has been one of the least memorable Enslaved albums.
Of greatest note and recognition here is the opening track '793 Slaget Om Lindisfarne', an epic dedicated to an old Viking conquest. Dwarfing all other tracks here at sixteen minutes in length, 'Eld' is opened up on a relatively strong note with this track, breathing some life into the music with a lush symphonic introduction, before going into the more definitive blastbeats and tremolo guitar picking of black metal. The music here also shows a very deep rooting now in the sounds of the style called Viking metal, featuring droning clean vocals and some faint acoustic sounds. Where 'Eld' begins to go wrong is its failed attempt at achieving the sense of epic ambition it sets itself out for. Although '793' does feel like a single composition that has been fairly thoughtfully put together, it generally lacks a feeling of climax, or epic proportion. Instead, the music feels like it cycles between ideas that are fairly good, to excellence, to bland mediocrity, and uses them each numerous times throughout the sixteen minute track. The ideas are rarely ever developed upon, which makes it difficult to get a truly excellent experience from this track. However, the ambition of '793' makes it worth the journey alone, and the moments of excellence are used very well.
The rest of the songs here are fairly decent, yet somewhat bland when compared to the material that came before. With 'Vikingligr Veldi', the music emphasized epic metal and complex orchestrations. 'Frost' then focused on a more orthodox approach to raw black metal. 'Eld' tries to merge the two, but does neither style particularly well, only decently. The heavy black metal moments feel very similar to the same writing on earlier stuff, but with less bite to it. In terms of the more progressive orchestrations here, Grutle Kjellson tries his hand at clean singing quite a bit here, but it's clear that he would still have some way to go before getting the vocals nailed. Although comparatively weaker to the previous two albums, 'Eld' does sport some cleaner production to it, which will certainly attract those who found the less polished studio work of black metal-era Enslaved off-putting.
Although this is certainly my least favourite Enslaved album at the time of writing, 'Eld' is a decent album, if even only for its sense of ambition and progression. There are been a very clear step forward in development here, and while Enslaved does not do such a great job at consolidating their sound here, 'Eld' will endear many of those who favour Enslaved's Viking metal era most.
“Eld” by Enslaved is one of the better “black metal with progressive influences” albums of all time. Sure, “Eld” is not pure black metal like “Frost” or “Vikingligr Veldi” but it still crushes just the same.
Vocally, this album is near perfect. Grutle Kjellson uses his nasty blackened snarls and his Viking style singing voice. His screams are top-notch on “Eld” like they always are. Sick, demon-like, guttural rasps with a force of power that is sure to blow the listener away. His clean vocals are typical Viking chants utilized by so many Enslaved clones today. The vocals are a low baritone style. They are weak and very much in the background. So much so that they are almost inaudible. However, the frail clean vocals do not spoil the atmosphere of the album; they actually enhance it. I believe that if Garm (Arcturus, Ulver) sang here, it might sound a little over the top mixed in with the angry drums and guitars. Grutle’s drowned out clean vocals definitely add to the Viking atmosphere.
Guitars are pretty cool on this album and any early Enslaved album. They are very aggressive and harsh. Angry style riffing dominate “Eld” and they fit nicely with the rest of the music. They are distorted, but in a more “Viking” approach. I mean that they are not raw, like Darkthrone, but half distorted with a more melodic tone. If you have heard Hades (Nor), then you have heard this style of riffing.
Drums on this album are provided by a man known as Harald Helgeson. He is one kick ass drummer! I don’t know of any other projects he has participated in, but he really knows how to play black metal. His blast beats are raw and seriously hostile sounding. These are ugly blasts even for black metal! This is the perfect drummer for the angry sound of the music.
The few problems that lie in this album are the progressive elements. For the most part it works, but sometimes it fails. For example, “793…” is sixteen minutes long. This would not be a problem if it was a well executed song with a lot of variation, but “793…” does not vary much. It starts with an excellent ambient piece that runs about four minutes. Mortiis-like snyth is present and fits the Viking atmosphere. The song is very good, but Grutle songs the whole time. No harsh vocals on this song! Sure it worked for Ulver’s “I Troldskog Faren Vild” from “Bergtatt” but Garm is considerably better than Grutle at singing. “793…” should have contained more vocal variance and more musical variance. The music is very repetitive and drags on and on. It can start to get stale if your not in the mood for it.
The highlights on this album are every song including “793…” even though I negatively commented on it. “The Man from Hordaland” is an amazing song worth mentioning. It has nasty riffing and sick drum work. “Eld” is the best song here. It has a regal opening that reminds me of a king approaching his people. Then it turns into anger with aggressive guitar riffs and violent drums. It slows down for a nice clean sung part giving the listener’s ears a break for a while. Then it goes violent again followed by the regal riff to close. This is the perfect ending to this album.
“Eld” is probably Enslaved’s best effort to date. It beats out the previous two albums due to aged musicianship. I highly recommend buying this album. I did and have not regretted yet!
'Eld' marks a new style of Enslaved, a more progressive one [7 tracks in 58 minutes], and it's only the first sign of all their future albums to come which will continue to progress more and more. I can call it somehow a matured album of the band, though I hate to use this term. There are a lot clean vocals here, the black metal shrieks still remained, but now the songs themselves sounds more relaxed and less brutal as they were for instance, in their first album.
The first track (793-Slaget Om Lindisfarne) is their longest song to date. It clocks out at 16 minutes, and it's a pretty epic one. It begins with some chilled horns followed by some pleasant choirs, it repeats itself for 3 minutes and then it has more layers and explodes quietly. Then some clean guitars fades in and then turns to a more distorted one, and so the drums comes in and the song begins. 'Grutle Kjellson' sings pretty clean here in low tunes and he sings pretty calmly. But in my opinion there are too much echos on his voice which only interrupt and doesn't increases anything. After 8 minutes and half the song changes his mood and becomes pretty brutal with fast drumming and a sudden (and the only) shriek from 'Kjellson', then it suddenly stops and becomes more mellow and leading into a great instrumental section. After that it returns to the section after the intro and the clean vocals chilling again the atmosphere, but then it's ending pretty brutal and suddenly cutted of. It's an outstanding track, has a load of awesome riffs and beautiful vocals (but could be better without all these echos) and it progressing very well from the mysterious intro until the brutal ending, it's a varied track and a sweeping experience which changes often it's moods, really outstanding track!
The rest is pretty good, but not awesome as the first track. 'Hordalendingen' begins with a catchy power chords riff and then the drums comes in and a second guitar adding a different variety, then it becomes faster song with intense drumming and the ordinary black metal shrieks, but the chorus is with clean vocals too. Pretty good track, not becomes monotonous or repetitive because it has a lot mid breaks and different moods.
Overall, it's a step up and very enjoyable album. The first track is outstanding and the other tracks are pretty well too. 'Eld' is a varied and progressive album which remains viking metal in his roots and brings with him the usual vikingish atmosphere of Enslaved, with a more ambitious and creative spirit. Get it if you are a viking/black/atmospheric metal fan, and if you aren't, maybe it will discover you a different approach from your ordinary metal bands.
This is a wonderful effort by Enslaved. I would say this is Enslaved at their most realized and their most evocative. Just like their last two efforts, “Vikingr Veldi” and “Frost” the guitars are ferocious and harsh, but are full of underlying melodies. Gruttle’s vocals are still as sharp and as harsh as they were before and fit nice with the ringing, eerie melodies. The production is a bit more refined then the previous efforts. This is certainly a good thing, as it truly captures the essence of this record and the mood of a what Viking metal should have, robust and grandiose. The guitars are brought a bit more, which really help.
While Enslaved have a great epic punch and are seemingly full of confidence, they sure aren’t afraid to branch out a bit. Beneath the rapid fire riffing and drumming were it seems like chaos has arisen are some nice subtle keyboard touches and Gruttle’s clean vocals. They only enhance the album’s power and adds a real majestic and monumental feel to it. Combined, “Eld” creates some real nice thought-provoking imagery. While previous efforts were full of sweeping, cold melodies, the ideas seemed stretched too thin to keep the listener fully attentive. In “Eld” Enslaved add a bit more diversity and complexity which grabs you all the way through. To wrap it all up, this is Enslaved at their most focused, surely a Viking metal must!
Although I'm reluctant to give anything 100%, I do feel that this is one album that deserves it. From the epic opening track “Slaget om Lindisfarne” to the powerful closer and title track “Eld”, it just oozes atmosphere and quality.
The album’s beginning is deceptively calm, opening with a moody string section that crescendos towards the sounds of a boat coming ashore, firmly instilling the Viking atmosphere in the listener. This is definitely the highlight of the album for me. Next comes the more straight-up Hordalendigen (“The Man from Hordaland”), with its classic opening riff and descent into a fast yet atmospheric song that sets the standard for the rest of the album. Alfablot (“Sacrifice to the Elves”) again has more of an epic sound, with the almost operatic vocals completing the Viking imagery; Kvasirs Blod (“The Blood of Kvasir”), however, builds up more vocal track, with Grutle’s rasping vocals doing justice the song’s themes of Nordic Gods. For Lenge Siden (“A Long Time Ago”) begins with the sound of a man speaking in some unknown language, and then tells the story of a people’s thirst for revenge at the killing of their ancestors. This is followed by the anger of Glemt (“Forgotten”), with the powerful vocals and consistent riffing that have become Enslaved’s trademark. Finally, we have the closing track, Eld (“Fire”). The commanding vocals and atmosphere really compliment the destructive and apocalyptic lyrics and the song is an incredible finish to the album.
Overall, I’d say that this is one of my favourite metal albums of all time, and is definitely deserving of a 100% rating.