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I count myself amazed that my opinions can change so wildly given enough years. I used to be a devoted Enslaved listener-- far more than I am now, admittedly. They did more than fuse black metal with progressive rock; they demonstrated how organically an artist's sound could change over time, and all of the steps were interesting in their own right. Above anything else however, I preferred the two polar ends of their career, that being the prog metal phase from 2008's Vertebrae onward, and the frigid black metal glory I considered to have ended in '97 with their third LP Eld. For whatever reason, I initially condemned Eld as the ushering in of an appropriately middling mid-period that did little to move me. I thought this was the point where Enslaved had supposedly lost their edge. Well, it doesn't happen often, but there are times where I consider myself fortune to be wrong. This is one of them.
Ironically, as my appreciation of Eld has grown upon revisiting the discography of these guys, my opinion towards the earlier work has waned. Why is it that I had thought Eld sounded thin compared to Frost years ago, and feel the total opposite these days? If there is anything from my initial impression that still rings true, it's that Eld strikes me as a polished combination of their first two albums. The Norse orchestrations and complexity of Vikingligr veldi met their match in the blackened grit of its successor. It was interesting to hear Enslaved playing two wildly different sounds within 6 months of each other-- and in that order, no less! Listening to Eld now however, I have no doubt that the two approaches complement each other. Not that Vikingligr veldi ever lacked for energy, but it's a greater joy to hear that album's guided approach fuel far better riffs than were heard on either of the first two albums.
There were three years between Eld and the first pair of albums. Despite spending the arse-end of the Second Wave in relative silence, it's clear that they didn't spend the time idly. It's often hard to believe that Enslaved were a trio at this point in their career. Although I'm sure concessions would be made for their live shows, the arrangements are remarkably well fleshed out. Although they arguably went overboard with the 1970s homage on latter albums, it's fascinating how Eld manages to imply prog-inspired ambitions without bending over for any of the genre's tropes. The only exception, possibly, is the 16 minute "793 (Slaget om Lindisfarne)", an epic devoted to the raid that arguably began what is known as the Viking age. It's fitting that Enslaved chose such a significant event to cast a shadow over Eld. Unlike a lot of other albums (including some in Enslaved's own catalogue), the Norse themes never serve to slow down the music's pace. Grutle's clean vocals are remarkably evocative here, far moreso than Herbrand Larsen's tepid cleans on recent albums. Harald Helgeson does a much better job fitting in the band behind the drumkit than the frantic Trym Torson (see: Emperor) did on the last album. More than anything, Ivar Bjørnson raised the bar with his riffs on Eld. He actually manages to make his riffs sound more biting by fleshing out the rawness on Frost with technique and melody.
Listening to it now, there's a part of me that now misses the golden ratio Enslaved struck on Eld. It's wild to think I once thought of this album as a low-point in their career. The overly clean direction post-Below the Lights almost belittles the intelligence they could demonstrate without it. While they hadn't yet reached their peak with this one, it should be enough to say that this is the first album where their reach finally caught up with their noble ambitions.
From the outset allow me to concede my unabashed sentimentality for this record. I have great personal admiration for these community run archives where fans can share their love and enthusiasm of art in an environment away from the faux-objective affectations of music "critics". The inextricably subjective nature of music is something to be embraced, and thus I do not try to make some case for this album, but rather share my personal experience with you. Finally, surely I'm not the only one who adores that cheesetastic album cover. The cultural ornaments, austere posture, and even the warm sepia tone hints at the record's theme, personified in the album's title: Eld - meaning Fire or Flame - A fitting thematic counterpoint to their previous iconic release, "Frost". Now, enough of my blathering! On with the metal!
Lacking the band's direct confirmation I have always inferred that, in light of this album being the subsequent release to 1994's "Frost", "Eld" was, however conscious, an intended contrast in theme, sound, and (as previously alluded to) aesthetics. The production (which I adore) is a far cry from the chilling, cavernous mystique of Frost, but rather (honouring the inferred counterpoint) a warm (at times searing) drift through radically contrasting scenery. The cleaner elements of the production are clear and pronounced, if somewhat dry, (which I would argue fits the album perfectly, given it's literally titled "Fire") yet the harsher sections retain the energy and intensity most would associate with many metal demos. If Frost is the looming specter of winter, Eld is the summer raids that sail west, through clear days and stormy nights, towards the promise of wealthy English shores - so beautifully captured in the outstanding album opener "793 Slaget om Lindisfarne" - the historical arrival of the Vikings in the British Isles, and the inaugural raid of Northumbria: The Battle of Lindisfarne.
"Kvasirs Blod" (The Blood of Kvasir) is another culturally inspired track that alludes to an intriguing bit of Nordic folklore, in which, upon the death of the wise figure known as Kvasir, (born of the saliva of both the Æsir and Vanir) his blood is mixed with honey to craft the mythical "Mead of Poetry", a drink that is said to confer to any who ingest it the wisdom of skaldship - and thus the spread of poetry came to mankind. The track itself is rather foreboding, perhaps alluding to the moment of Kvasir's death, moreso than the mythical properties of the mead, or the dawn of poetry in the hearts of Man. "For Lenge Siden" (A Long Time Ago) is, next to 793, the track I revisit the most on this album. From its intriguing intro, gorgeous build, driving blasts, a welcome but brief, frantic solo, and its swelling, violent conclusion, (an excellent vocal performance) this track more than any other runs through the fullest range of what this album presents.
I believe this album grows on the listener in time, and one's enjoyment of the record will very likely be markedly better if one doesn't expect it to be a Frost clone, and you have some modicum of knowledge or appreciation of Nordic folklore. Judging by the rather polar reception of the album, I can only presume the stark contrast from Frost was too overwhelming or divergent for many; it is my view however, that there is something distinctly thematically poignant about contrasts. Day and Night, Summer and Winter, and indeed *Fire and Ice*. To those that shat on this record for not being Frost II when the album is literally called *Fire*, the band has precluded this and you have your own presuppositions and predilections to blame more than anything. It's rather curious to me that this album's reception was far poorer than Mardraum's, (Another Enslaved record I love) when said record is distinctly more progressive in a variety of ways. I believe it is in part due to having enough time between, and not being the direct follow-up to the genre beloved Frost, (and thus not having nearly as much riding on it) and in part because the frantic violence and intensity of Mardraum's sound saved the perceived integrity of the album, in the minds and hearts of the more diehard metal fans.
This album rewards the listener with each listen, (a quality I adore in cinema, I might add) is a competent counterpoint to the band's superb previous release, and stands as a distinguished progression of the band itself. The album is fatigued in certain areas and would, I believe, benefit from making at least one of these tracks a b-side, trimming some fat here and there, and optionally ending on a slightly grander note. (Perhaps Glemt with a more triumphant outro) This onion has a hell of a lot of layers, and I encourage you all to peel away! (Just don't cry, bro, that's totally not metal) Cheers to this wonderful group, and one of the most consistent metal bands of the past 20 years.
Favourite tracks: 793, For Lenge Siden, Alfablot, and Glemt.
If only this album could be as good as the opening track. Different from anything they had yet done on Frost or Viklingligr Veldi, “793…” is a 16 minute war opus complete with Kubrick-esque intro to set the scene. The folky acoustic guitars, clean chanting, and subtle distorted chords abandon Enslaved’s previously harsh style in favor of something infinitely more similar to Quorthon’s Nordland albums. From the beginning, Enslaved made stylistic choices that were unusual for their time and place in black metal history. Each album serves as a testament to their progression, and Eld is no different with its further thrust into viking metal.
Unfortunately, the rest of Eld is a mixed bag. While the lighter portions of the album are exemplary, the heavier ones come off as sloppy in comparison. The rattling tremolos that had become a part of their trademark sound at the time are faster and harsher than ever. The pitfall is that these riffs are bashed against each other so haphazardly that listens often become grating and arduous. Compositions become less of a progression and more of a roulette game. It’s Enslaved meets Dillinger Escape Plan without the latter’s ability to order the chaos.
The drumming takes a few steps backwards as well. Much of the excellent variety showcased on Frost and VV have been replaced with endless blastbeats. Without a counterpoint, the sheer velocity and ferocity is lost. There are still fills and other beats to be found, but by and large one can expect to be pummeled by the BM woodpecker.
As far as production goes, the mix is pretty similar to that of Frost: chilly and cave-like. The primary difference is that the bass guitar seems to have further disappeared. If you really listen, you can hear it bouncing around in the background during the quieter sections. Given the fun little runs it does, I wish I could hear it a little better.
For all of its problems, Eld isn’t a one-trick pony. Songs like “Kvasir’s Blod” and “Glemt” are of better construction and manage to meld together folky choruses with thrashier verses. The ideas of these songs will form a foundation for further growth on Blodhemn. Enslaved continue with their excellent lyrics about Norwegian folk tales, and it is notable that this will be the last time that they solely utilize their native tongue.
So there you have it. As far as Enslaved goes, there are worse albums you can listen to for sure. Eld is an important album that showcases many transitional elements as well as career highlight songs. It simply doesn’t work well as a whole. For those delving into their early period I would recommend Frost or Blodhemn instead. Fittingly, like fire, the raging sounds here just cannot be tamed.
In what lands away from the razor-sharp and forthright beginnings of the Hordanes Land EP, debut Vikingligr Veldi and runner up, Frost, distanced from that blackened approach and those distinctive cold symphonic atmospheres, a significant stylistic shift occurs in Eld. Instead, the introduction of a dry rock-like production has warmer organic elements breaking ground in an altogether more elegant and traditional-sounding metal album. Save some thematic likeness to its forerunners, the abovementioned take on a more unambiguous approach leaving less room for the epic and leaning heavily instead on edgier elements in thunderous drums, high-pitched synths, and chainsaw guitars. These cut-throat elements don’t fall entirely unto deaf ears in Eld – a fitting distant overtone, fierce, balls-out riffery, grim vocals, and furious blastbeats proving suggestive elements of a hard-hitting, high-energy album akin to the likes of the early band. But these seem lavished by the majesty of a more definite and meaningful undertone, emanations from a grander approach emphasizing elements of expectable intensity as well as those of a much more profound noble-like grandeur. Though darker shades are cast in both its predecessors and successor, Blodhemn, alike, credit is nonetheless due in what is perhaps the most iconic representation of the identity of Enslaved and in what truly contends to be the poster-child of the “Viking Metal” genre. Eld shines among the discography in this role with a laudable offering of consistent musicianship, strong thematic content, and lean on a generally warmer approach.
The album‘s face track checks off all three points, “793 (slaget om Lindisfarne)” hailing a vintage backdrop, expansive phrasings, and very textured melodies in a potently progressive albeit tastefully arranged saga. Although this sort of approach bleeds throughout the album, all succeeding tracks showcase a more desirable display of heaviness and diversity as meatier riffs and altogether more drastic progressions embody the greater gist of Eld. That said, each track has something of similar value to offer in terms of style, feel, and flow of energy, each housing in one form or another the critical elements (in progressive-inspired riffs or structural likenesses with predictable later-plopped interludes – not to be scrutinized) that adorn an otherwise parched and unforgiving sound with a very listenable undercoat. Notably, a distinct journey-like feel is well-preserved track-to-track, each soundly supporting the next in terms of both content and approach. Indeed, it is this consistency that alludes to the pioneering nature of Eld and as well to a reprisal of the sheer quality of earlier works; after all, still fresh in an evolution eventually falling short of any perceivable link to its roots in “Black Metal”, deviation from the raw palatable essence of the early band is a non-issue.
Perhaps still the album’s most attractive qualities are in a balance of this crude aggression and a brand-new eloquence in composition. “Kvasir’s Blod“, in combing through a heavy half-time intro, fast attack-minded verse, and openly progressive midsection, will gladly entertain a steady nod as well as bring deeper, more no-nonsense moments that reach beyond tremolo-picking, distortion, and blasts. A like approach is seen in epics “Glemt”, “Alfablot”, and “Eld”, each housing elements both dynamic and melodic of grand and heroic passages. Suffice it to say that Enslaved showcases a good deal of maturity weaving through more traditional ideas while identifying with an all-important rustic feel throughout the album. Less an adequate lack of the overall ear-splitting ferocity one would expect from a chronological sift through the discography, Eld, in its thematic strength, remains not only a highlight of the collection but reigns – goblet in hand – a staple album of its genre. Not only is it strong musically in and of itself, providing a hearty helping of extreme metal to any-caliber listener, but in the grander scheme it is a pioneering record venturing to curious new grounds while still capturing a titan’s early genius. No glittery plastic sounds prevailing here – not but a medievally-influenced metal master class of truly epic proportions.
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.
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.
“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.