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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