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Despite their reputation, Frost was Enslaved 's only true black metal album. Released shortly after a fascinating prog-Viking bout in Vikingligr veldi, this is the only stage in their career that doesn't make total sense in light of where they were going as a band. The debut album came pre-packaged with the Viking pomp of their mid-period and the 70s prog rock homages of the latter years.Frost, in contrast, sounds like a fairly traditional Nordic black metal album, far more representative of the year both albums came out. This counter-intuitive devolution on the band's part begs many comparisons with the better-known Nattens Madrigal. However, unlike Ulver's lo-fi masterpiece, it doesn't feel like Enslaved really distinguished themselves in this arena. It's a fine contribution to the Second Wave pantheon, but doesn't othrwise stand out as one of their finer moments.
The strange thing is that I used to think otherwise. Back when I used to listen to Enslaved religiously, I often counted Frost near the top of their albums. By contrast, the anthemic turn they took on Eld didn't do much for me. Now it's the exact opposite. It's funny that a decade can turn an opinion around like that. Ironically, I'm far more into the traditional end of BM than I've ever been. Perhaps it's the context of having heard more of their contemporaries that arguably nailed this sound so much better that thinned out some of my enthusiasm.
My opinion has waned over the years, but when that dust settles, I still consider us all fortunate that we got to hear Enslaved playing a more true-to-form breed of black metal before crossing the point of no return. Compared to Vikingligr veldi, Frost is to-the-point and aggressive. The warm orchestrations are largely gone, replaced here with droning synths that occasionally flesh out the riffs overtop. Although this is easily Enslaved's most straightforward album, it still manages to sound more refined than the majority of their peers. As opposed to falling in line with the raw zeitgeist, Enslaved's re-imagining as "true" black metal places them somewhere between the intricate speed of their splitmates in Emperor, and the more characteristic Nordic force of Bathory circa Blood Fire Death. Part of the former impression no doubt hails from the drumwork of Trym Torson, who shares credits on the early Enslaved material and most of Emperor's as well. The core members Enslaved have never had the ravenous kick of their "evil" contemporaries. As it stands, Torson's frantic drums tend to overpower the rest of the performances. This only goes to his credit as one of black metal's unsung greats, but the fact that the other members don't match up in this energy probably offers some indication why they decided to distance themselves from black metal.
As a black metal band, Enslaved tend to set themselves apart on the very basis that they've always been "more" than a black metal band. Whether it's been the acoustic undertones, chanted warrior vocals, or the complex prog rock pastiche of their latter work, they've always blurred the lines of what constitutes that genre, without ever compromising what it should represent ideologically. While the acoustic interludes and relative clarity on Frost makes it far from being a truly conventional black metal record, this is easily the closest we've ever come to hearing what Enslaved would sound like if they took the better-travelled road. While the results haven't held up as well as their progressive material, it is impressive to see them consciously backtracking here. Rest assured, they did so without losing the essence of what made them unique.
The 1994 genre beloved jewel, Frost, is as violent and visceral as it is wistful and mystical. A true landmark of the style at large, it stands amongst the very finest work of the band's storied career. I've long held that Ivar Bjørnson and Grutle Kjellson are amongst the most enduring and consistent creatives forces of the past 20 years in metal. While I would argue this certainly isn't the band's strongest work to date, there are distinct qualities to this record arguably unparalleled in the style as a whole. From the moment I first came across it Frost's minimalist yet striking album cover, majestic instrumental opener, and distinguished, chilling atmosphere made an immediate impression on me.
It's not so much that the album is, track to track, a critical trailblazer of flawless execution, as it isn't without its shortcomings. It's very much endearingly a product of the eagerness and vitality of the band's youth, complete with the raw energy and imperfections one would expect in such cases. Black metal stands somewhat unique in this respect. In a genre such as, for example, death metal, I would weigh in more heavily on each individual track, as death metal is, by its very nature, far more shaped by the precise, conscious minded bric-a-brac of technical execution and a certain degree of posturing. (That's not a knock against the genre, I love plenty of death metal) Simply put, death metal is far more a deliberate, constructed outcome than the atmospheric vision of black metal. Black metal implies its vision in its use of sound, crafting a world the listener is guided along through. It's far less exacting and certainly much less structural than death metal. A simple contrast between "technical" death metal and the black metal staple of tremolo style picking highlights the difference between the exacting, structured nature of death metal, and the blood boiling, atmospheric nature of black metal.
As stated, and excuse the lengthy preface, I say all this because Frost is not a track-to-track perfect record. Some tracks drag, wander, and one track should outright be cut as a b-sides in my view, (Gylfaginning) and this quite frankly is a rather traditional hallmark of black metal; that is to say the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and this must be tacitly understood to fully appreciate these kinds of records. Frost not only fulfills this exceptionally well, it captures a distinct, indelible atmosphere of frigid, cavernous mystique, the likes of which I've never heard truly recreated. Trym Torson makes his final appearance with the band, delivering a stunning, staggeringly swift drum performance. Grutle truly finds himself on this record, improving markedly on all fronts. From his shrill wretches, his blood curdling shrieks, his much welcomed venture into the resonant, Nordic male choir-esque clean vocals, and of course the unforgettable demented cackling howls of the "Loke" outro.
As impartially as I can possibly make the claim I sincerely believe that Frost has an authentic and distinguished character of its own, and despite the aforementioned imperfections of the record, I believe this is why Frost is held up as a measuring stick for much of Enslaved's work. (Despite not even being the band's best output) Frost genuinely has it's own identity. For this and several personal, sentimental reasons, I rate the album higher than I may otherwise. (And to those who simply do not 'click' with this album, that is the fault of no one) I hold those who rate music as an act to be strictly kept to dry, comparative evaluation to be missing the mark. The inextricably subjective nature of music should go without saying, but the contemporary context, historical importance, seminal influence, and the distinct character of the aesthetics, theme, and production are all integral qualities of an album in my eyes. Frost is shy of a masterpiece, but it's an ageless icon of the genre that achieved an authentic identity amidst the heyday of the style's second wave, and stands amongst the groups finest efforts to date.
Favourite Tracks: Frost, Loke, Fenris, Yggdrasil
With regard to their susceptibility to progressiveness, Enslaved did never join my imaginary inner circle of top bands. Put clearly, I do not appreciate their entire works very much. Fortunately, "Frost" is different. Contrary to the first impression, the ice-cold artwork is anything else but primitive. The cover rather expresses the atmosphere of the musical content in a very suitable manner. I am not speaking of the icy guitars that characterized the early works of Immortal or Gorgoroth. The guys of Enslaved generate another form of coldness. Without killing the force of the album with an overdose of pagan elements, the music transmits a natural Scandinavian aura. Enslaved take the listeners on a journey through the dark woods of Norway, they show us the majestic countenance of the rugged and dreary fjords and a shiver runs down the spine while gazing at weather-beaten and deserted expanses. One thing is for sure, this album sounds authentic and I will not tire of repeating that this is an important feature.
Enslaved's sound on "Frost" shines with its variety without being too complex or complicated. One can understand the song patterns quickly, although the band is not afraid of suddenly emerging yet cleverly executed breaks. For example, "Fenris" begins with a majestic spoken word sequence and grows steadily until it reaches a very high level of intensity. But it also surprises after a rapid part with an extremely catchy, almost danceable part. It interrupts the speedy rhythms and is putting its own mark on it before high velocity gains the upper hand again. The subsequent "Svarte Vidder" starts with smooth guitar lines which are accompanied by supporting background vocals. But the guttural voice and the hammering drums give the song another direction. An adequate number of breaks, atmospheric keyboards and the interplay of craggy harshness and harmonic leads form an epic tune that seems to express the beauty of Norway's nature. Of course, I am speaking of a very individual beauty. Prepare yourself for cold winds, a grey sky and inhospitable regions.
Back in 1994, the sound of Enslaved was definitely original. The band expanded my musical horizon. As said before, the album is not overloaded with folkloric sounds. Nevertheless, a song like "Yggdrasil" combines Nordic harmonies with electric guitars and shows a new facet of black metal. Yet it is a fact that the aggressive parts dominate this album. The sheer, ferocious belligerence of "Jotunblod" or "Wotan" underlines this. But the Vikings of Enslaved achieve their top form when connecting noble melodies with a proper amount of aggression. The short chorus of "Gylfaginning" is based on this connection and it enriches the song in a brilliant way. Thankfully, the clear and vigorous production supplies the appropriate framework for the songs. The folkloric instruments and the typical metal tools are mutually reinforcing and the predominantly raw, sometimes illustrious vocals add the finishing touch. By the way, especially the vocal performance activates the feeling of being subjected to a long cold Northern winter. Therefore, if you like to walk on icy ground, don't hesitate to visit the frosty realm of Enslaved's second full-length.
Viklingligr Veldi redux. Less than a year after their debut, Enslaved returns with another unprecedented release unlike anything going on in the scene. But this time, Grutle and the gang have sharpened their swords and honed their technique. Lengthy running times have been abandoned in favor of a whatever-the-arrangement-calls-for approach. Frost brings it faster and harder while maintaining its progressive black roots.
While those who may have read my review of VV will find some similar comments, there are plenty of changes as well. The amount of vocals have increased along with their consistency and intensity. Shrieks come through not unlike an early Bathory record. We also get our first taste of clean chanting that will become a trademark over the next few albums. Guitar riffs are more varied within each song. Bouncy tremolos rise and fall while crashing into evil-sounding minor chords. The treble-end is favored, giving the album a more jagged, icy feel.
The drums continue to dominate and destroy with their flurry of double bass, heavy-handed snare hits, and fills. They sound as if they are recorded in an ice cavern and endanger band members with falling stalactites. This atmosphere is further enhanced by the psychedelic synthesizers, jawharp, and use of organ. Lyrics are in full Norwegian and cover topics regarding Norse gods, heroes, and villains. Frost is epic in a different way then many other folk and Viking metal acts. Rather than relying on a patriotic call to arms approach such as later acts like Ensiferum and Amon Amarth, Enslaved features sounds of battle that seem more realistically chaotic and unpredictable. Taake and other acts would later incorporate similar sounds on their albums.
To name a few favorites, “Svarte Vidder,” “Jotunblod,” and “Loke” each bring the pain with their breakneck speed and raw guitar work. There are slower moments, and these are crafted equally well. Enslaved even briefly hints forward to stranger experiments such as Monumension with wonky 70’s prog incorporation. In the end, Frost is an absolutely essential album to Enslaved’s discography. Tighter than VV, but not as adventurous as some of their later works. Those seeking something more melodic would be best served with Isa.
This was my first taste of Norway's Enslaved. It also remains my favorite of theirs, and one of my very favorite black metal albums. Frost is absolute magic, showcasing Enslaved at an early peak in their career. Even when the band played a more "straight up" style of black metal it wasn't hard to tell that they were quite different from their brethren. From the odd, ornate riffage to the bizarre arrangement and incredible drum work, Frost is an almost frightening affair with a level of quality I feel is almost unparalleled.
One of the great things about Frost is that the music on offer reflects both the title and the album cover, much in the way that Blut Aus Nord's Ultima Thulee nailed it. The music leaves me cold in the absolute best way possible, with chilling riffs and atmosphere that almost ices over my speakers. Coupling this with some folk nuances throughout results in a rather unique atmosphere that I feel is exclusive to this album. The production is absolutely perfect, blending Norwegian rawness with sobering clarity. The album somehow manages to sound as though it is calling you from a distance, whilst remaining in your face.
The performances are excellent, with Trym's drum work being the best of the genre this side of Frost or Hellhammer. Ivar Bjørnson's guitar work is particularly noteworthy, with an outside-the-box approach to riff writing which adds further character to the album. Grutle Kjellson's vocals take the croak/goblin approach and are perfect for the material.
The album opens with a short new age piece which slowly begins to paint the canvas, almost serene with a glacial feel to it, soon jagged edges begin to set into the canvas and "Loke" with an ominous build exploding into a fucking insane riff. This track is pure armaggedon, with frantic drumming, demented vocals and mountain toppling riffs, ending in manic laughter. What a start. "Fenris" is a personal favorite and certainly one of the more interesting tracks one the album with incredible guitar riffs. From here onwards Enslaved take you on a ride that is best experienced yourself if you haven't already.
I could happily sit and praise each and every track on the album, it really is fucking superlative. Like I said earlier this is one of my very favorite black metal albums, if you haven't heard it already you're really missing out. Boasting phenomenal atmosphere and performance, this is nigh on essential to any metal collection, and without a doubt deserving pride in place among any black metal collection.
Originally written for http://www.metalcrypt.com
Yet another one of my random record store buys in league with Gehenna and Gorguts. Sadly this album does not even come close to the quality of those two albums. What we have here in my opinion, is an album that got marked as a classic of its genre because it was one of the only of its genre back when it was released. Though Frost ceraintly set some foundations for the more atmospheric and epic of metal genres, that is all that is here. Foundations.
Now even today there are limited bands that play 'viking metal'. And if you are one of the few die hard viking metal fans out there, this album may still interest you. But for me, even with the limited number of bands, hell, even with Enslaved's other albums, there is much better material out there. The only reason I got this album in the first place was because I really like Viklingr Veldi, especially the song Vetranott. Besides that, other better albums of this genre include Windir's 1184, Bathory's Hammerheart, and though I haven't listened to much of their other albums I can say that Moonsorrow's V: Havitetty is much better than this.
Like the first release, Frost retains a large black metal vibe. However the raw, enchanting quality of the first album is transformed into a tamer, slower and softer piece. That wouldn't be a huge problem if the production didn't tank along with the aggression. All the delictably grittty flavor of the premier release is gone, and all that is left behind is a quiet album. Bad production is maintained, but the 'good' aspects if bad production are left out. It is hard to explain. There is a difference between soft, quiet production and raw, evil production.
It's like this. Poorly produced albums are fine and I will often give albums the benefit of the doubt. But the soft and cleaner production here couples with the soft and cleaner music to create an album that just doesn't know what it is. Then you throw in Grutle's harsh vocals and you get something confusing, and boring. The clean parts seem more out of place and less symbiotic then they do on Viklingr. Mellotron and keyboard no longer work with the raw guitars and drums to create a unique sound. They instead work against them to create a work with no cohesion at all. The intro is the only song with any wholeness to it all. The ambient effects completely take away from the riffs on other songs.
Then there are the riffs in general. Simple and dull and repetitive and repetitive and repetitive. Yeah I get that black metal is repetitive, but this is just sad. Especially when the riffs are not catchy or memorable at all. As are the drumming and bass. Dull and duller. The bass slides on Yggdrasil are actually pretty sweet, and Yggdrasil is probably the only song I have any love for at all. The album just seems to be trying way too hard to be different for its own good.
Plus the clean parts are really lacking as well. The 'atmosphere' here as no feeling or vibe to it at all. It's just clean breaks for the sake of clean breaks. You know how when you listen to Blood Fire Death you just want to go on a quest or something? Well the clean breaks here make you want to listen to something else. There is nothing to them at all really. Just sound.
I really wanted to like this album. I tried listening to it like ten times before I got all the way through and I was barely awake at the end of it all. Even for fans of the genre, there are just way better albums out there. Repetitive riffs, poor production, overuse of clean breaks , and severe lack of cohesion ruin this album. Unless you really want more viking metal just ignore it.
For boring and boringer, I give Frost by Enslaved a 33 out of 100 or a 2 out of 5
Next to the progressive, psychedelic journeys the band is producing in recent years, Frost must now seem like a primal behemoth haunting the desolate landscapes of the black metal pioneer. But even at the lowest of the band's career (Eld and Blodhemn), the great Enslaved have produced nothing but albums deserving of your respect, if not your utmost attention. And Frost is a far, far cry from the lowest, an epic of dynamic blasting and blitzing wrapped in the atmospherics of lo-fi synth work. Even at this early age, there was something quite different about the band's writing, and Frost was a diversion from the debut Vikingligr Veldi (released only 6 months earlier in '94).
The two founding fathers of the band, Ivar Bjørnson (guitars, keys) and Grutle Kjellson (vocals, bass) were joined here by the equally storied Trym Torson (Emperor, Zyklon, Tartaros, and others), whose frantic drumming is unmistakeable as it cavorts below the wandering guitar phrases and plodding, pumping bass, which is lathered in just the right amount of distortion. The keyboards here play a well balanced role, appearing only where needed, never steering or detracting from the guitar work or the central rhythms of the band. The album ranges from blasting aggression, certain to please the short attention spans of many, early extreme metal fans, to atmospheric passages and inventive rhythms which few peers were perfoming at the time. These are nowhere near as far out as later works like Mardraum, Below the Lights or Vertebrae, but in its day, many did not know what to make of this album.
The title track is a new age/ambient piece which invokes the mental imagery of thawing, frosted pines that scale a grand mountainside, each droplet of withered rain running its course to the foothills, the rivers and the mouths and cookpots of hardened, ancient men. "Loke" opens with pensive, ringing notes over crashing percussion, before bursting into life at the :30 mark with bloodthirsty speed picking and punishing blast and footwork from Trym. Truly of note is the bassplaying, which Grutle performs with flash and fury, as it coils ever below like a cold, snaking river. "Fenris" begins with spoken word Norse, before some great, curvy bass dowsed in sporadic chords and slides, breaking for acoustics and then an eruption of double-bass driven chords and further acoustics. Strikes of the synth are used deep within the depths of the track to highlight a charging rhythm, creating an atmosphere of airiness. "Svarte Vidder" is one of my favorites on the album, the way the bass and muted guitars cruise below the choral synth and then open into melodic blackness, relieved by even more coherent chaos as the snarling vocals ride across the mid-paced bashing like Sleipnir doing his morning struts. "Yggdrasil" features a guest, Eirik Hundvin, and some impressive, manly howling from Kjellson which resounds off into the atmosphere, dominating the plucky bass and mouth-harp.
"Jotunblod" is one of the the more straightforward black tracks on the album, not letting one up for air even when it hollows out to some mid-paced breaks and synth. "Gylfaginning" is another of my very favorite pieces on the album, as it rages and taunts one with a salvo of glistening, doom inspiring chords, freakish synth inserts and soaring vocals. "Wotan" is another rapid rush of ash and flame, Trym going ballistic while the guitars stream and scream above them in ribald, unrelenting fury. "Isöders dronning" is the finale, a track opening in acoustic bliss with creepy keyboards and gradually building into a more savage composition with large amounts of double bass finesse and acoustic/black interplay. The song thrives through both its driving momentum and moments of tranquillity, an epic closure as its final notes break to a halt.
Everything about Frost was top flight, from the great production values, to the great lyrics and cool packaging (the band logo and title were printed as a part of the CD case, rather than on the cover itself. Osmose did a great job with its release, and it became an early favorite for many fans of the rapidly expanding Norwegian scene. It actually remained my own favorite from the band until Below the Lights hit in 2003. There is something cold and energetic captured in this recording which is difficult to forget. It cries from the heights, like a pair of ravens who see all and transmit the forging of civilization to their master.
Highlights: Fenris, Svarte Viddar, Gylfaginning, Isöders dronning
What is Black Metal? In the early to mid 80s, this question would elicit such responses as Venom, Slayer, Mercyful Fate, Bathory, Sodom, Hellhammer, et cetera. While having some obvious similarities, each of these bands had a distinct style of their own. The one common thread that ran through the works of all of these bands (at least, in the early days) was the dark and Satanic content of the lyrics. That is what defined Black Metal, in those earliest times. The common fallacy is that Black Metal was spawned in Norway, in the early 90s. If it doesn't have this sound, then it's not Black Metal. By the same token, if it does have this sound, then it belongs to this style of music. This means that all a band needs to fit in this category are tremolo riffs, blast beats and screeching vocals, regardless of lyrical content. Wrong. Enslaved may be from Norway. They may utilize the same musical techniques used by Norwegian Black Metal bands, but Enslaved is Viking Metal. You won't find one reference to Satan on this entire album. Here, the lyrics deal with Norse/Germanic mythology.
Frost is the second L.P. from Enslaved, recorded in the summer of 1994, in Grieghallen, and produced by Pytten (as so many classic Norwegian albums were). The songs are more straightforward (and thus, somewhat, shorter) than on Vikingligr Veldi. The intro, "Frost", has a mystical feeling to it and goes well with the imagery that is found on the album cover.
"Loke" begins with a nice build-up, before unleashing a very harsh aural assault. The sound is very abrasive, like sheets of ice splintering and being hurled through the air, tearing flesh and severing limbs. The song structure is a bit more varied than one might expect, as well. The song ends with insanely disturbing laughter.
The next song is "Fenris", which begins with spoken a spoken word section (in Norwegian, of course) before a strange, somewhat folky rhythm begins. This doesn't last long, as the song transitions to a simple acoustic piece, before changing again, to a very catchy thrash riff. This will remain with you, coming to your mind at the strangest times, even when you haven't listened to the album in years. Enslaved truly appears to be one of the last unique bands to emerge from Norway, during this period. You can hear some musical influences from Mayhem, and even small similarities to Immortal, but this really does have a sound of its own. The only thing to complain about would be the bizarre use of keyboards, late in the song.
"Svarte Vidder" begins with some brilliant tremolo riffs and better-utilized keyboards. Grutle Kjellson's vocals are impressively harsh. The drummer, Trym Torson, is also very precise with everything he does. The guitar melodies possess a cold feel, almost cutting through your skin. This is the lengthiest song on the album, yet it contains enough variation that you never really notice. There are brief sections, in the middle and near the end, with some clean voice moaning (or chanting) in the distance.
"Yggdrasil" is a complete change in pace. This has a very folk-ish atmosphere, complete with clean vocals. Eirik "Pytten" Hundvin makes a special appearance, playing the fretless bass. After a couple of minutes, electric guitars emerge from the relative silence, though only adding to the feeling that has been created and not dominating the sound.
The progressive atmosphere seems to fade away as "Jotunblod" rages forth like an unrelenting blizzard. It begins with scathing vocals, fast tremolo riffs and blast beats. There is the slightest use of keyboards, and also typical oldschool drum patterns (not an expert, so it is difficult to describe any other way). The keyboards return, showing some similarities to bands like Emperor and Satyricon.
"Gylfaginning" begins with a very doomy riff that transitions into pure thrash. The drums are somewhat relaxed, while keeping time. In no time, keyboards and clean chanting join the mix. Again, Enslaved have a unique style, and it is very apparent while listening to Frost. This song also features a very nice lead solo, which adds to the cold atmosphere.
"Wotan" is the best song on the album, for those seeking a pure, straight-forward assault. In other words, this is the one with the most Black Metal sound, while (naturally) being as far from that as possible. It is very intense and the cold riffs wrap themselves around you like freezing winds carrying you toward the frigid waters of the North Sea.
"Kjemp med Krigers Gud; WOTAN!"
"Isöders Dronning" is very atmospheric, featuring more keyboard use and some clean vocals and acoustic guitars. In Black Metal, I'd be annoyed with the presence of some of these elements, yet this is Viking Metal, so it must not be held to the same standard. For some reason, much of this song seems reminiscent of Emperor's In the Nightside Eclipse.
This is a very solid album and, along with Hordanes Land and Vikingligr Veldi, the only Enslaved albums that I would recommend. Fans of early 90s Norwegian Black Metal or Viking Metal will, surely, appreciate this.
It is often said that Enlsaved's classic era ends after Frost. But the truth is that it ended after Vikingligr Veldi. There is a clear disparity, both in terms of quality and style, between that album and this, that it is only logical to draw the line between these two.
Let's start with something minor, or at least what should be minor: the production. A change in production value from one album to another is only natural, and it shouldn't play much role in determining the era into which the album in question falls, but the difference between the production on Vikingligr Veldi and Frost is so drastic that it deserves some analysis. The production on Vikingligr Veldi was not very raw, but it was still typical of black metal; on the other hand, Frost's production feels digital, with a mechanical or industrial touch to it. It is like the production on Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk, but much more mechanical. But it also has a machine-generating-cold-steam feeling like that of Mysticum, so while the production job is far from ideal, it is not significantly flawed in itself. Unfortunately, this is not industrial black metal like Mysticum. This is Viking black metal, and such a mechanical production is the last thing one can want in such a case. The follow-up to Frost, Eld, actually has a production that is more typical, but it is still reminiscent of Frost's production, so it is reasonable enough to use the production style as a standard of differentiating between two eras.
The composition is, of course, the biggest determinant. Frost first introduces the loss in subtlety. While the pre-frost Enslaved focused on conveying the emotions of the Vikings, Frost begins to center around depicting the Vikings themselves. Vikingligr Veldi and Hordanes Land were heavily concerned with the inner aspect of Vikings, of what they feel like after a battle or in the vast cold wilderness, and delivered it through smooth riff progressions and subtle manipulations; but Frost just screams "Viking!" right in front of the listener's face with its clean vocals, exclusively acoustic riffs, and keyboard solos, making the folk influences too overt. This problem is complicated because most of the riffs actually obscured the folk influences. The riffing is too thrash/heavy styled, with some chugging and technical overtones. There still are some brilliant tremolo riffs (though not all tremolo riffs on this album are good) that could have been on the earlier works by the band, but even such riffs do not work well here because they hardly make sense in the context of the surrounding riffs. With some parts of the songs being too blatant and some parts simply not sounding like folk at all, the songs lack the strongly unified feeling that was present on pre-Frost Enslaved. With Frost, Enslaved had already embarked on their "progressive" journey. From this point, it was only a matter of how many more influences they could throw in and how obvious they were going to make those.
Conversely, though, it means that they had not yet thrown in many random influences or made those so painfully obvious on Frost. It is still an enjoyable album, and when they do make a coherent song, such as Wotan, the harsh, evil vocals and the intense drumming which are more emphasized on this album than on previous works shine through, making the piece more ominous than anything they have done. But overall, Frost is far from being a classic, and it should be considered the beginning of the end rather than the end of the beginning.
Enslaved has always been a band that is constantly and progressively re-inventing their sound. Every album has been a step up (or step down in dissident opinions) in terms of writing, musicianship, and maturity. While “Frost” is one of their earlier releases, it is a timeless piece of art embodying a raw attitude that still holds true to this day.
Compared to their epic and freshman full length release, Vikingligr Veldi, “Frost” is a progression. Trym Torson’s drum work is spot-on, offering a dynamic variety of fills, blast beats, and double bass work. Ivar Bjørnson’s guitar playing, while nothing absurdly technical, creates a perfectly droned atmosphere that compliments Grutle Kjellson’s bass work nicely. “Frost” is to the point – each song being crafted around what is essential to be heard instead of forced or overplayed composition found on their previous release. Much of the fat has been cut from the songs, avoiding repetition while getting to more dynamic transitions and movements in each individual piece.
The use of keyboards and various folk instruments always add extra flavor to an Enslaved record and “Frost” is no exception. “Yggdrasil” presents to the listener an array of thoughtful composition and instrumentation showing the band member’s dexterity, while the opening track “Frost” creates a chilling and icy atmosphere with the use of more celestial orchestrated voices. Instead of taking away or distracting the listener from the core elements of the song, these instruments present a different side to the songwriting providing atmosphere.
“Frost” is definitely an essential album not only for heavy metal fans but for music aficionados as well. Anyone can appreciate this piece of art by focusing on the well thought out composition and becoming completely immersed in the beautiful atmosphere. To new listeners who are used to the later, more progressive Enslaved work, “Frost” may be a bit hard to swallow on the first few spins. Simply open your mind and let the music speak for itself – it is quite easy to become addicted to this.
Since the early days Enslaved had something different from the other bands that started the black metal period for Norway. Even if the beginning, with the demos, was a bit in old school raw black, there has always been a more acoustic and epic feeling. At first the few synth were used just to fill some parts during the fast black metal compositions but with the full lengths the things started to change.
Vikingligr Veldi was a great debut that started a new conception of epic black metal, transforming the sound into a sort of violent pagan/Viking black metal. The black metal of the early days and the new found melodies reached the top in one of the maximum examples in this music, Frost. We have not the too catchy and melodic parts by the great Falkenbach and everything seemed more brutal, bringing to speed a sort of progressive sound too.
So, in this album we can also find some of the elements that would have appeared in higher dosages in the following albums; progressive parts that concern the guitars’ dissonant riffage and some keyboards sections. Osmose production was really ahead in producing these new realities from Europe and thanks to them, we can appreciate the enchanted intro “Frost” and the following, fast and schizophrenic “Loke”, that by its rhythm pays homage to the mythical God in a perfect way.
“Fenris” is the very first long song here and features less impulsive tempo parts that manage in bringing more acoustic breaks by the classic guitars and cold riffs. When the tempo increases, the band is incredibly compact and the already great Trym behind the drums is really fast and creative. The production is dry out, direct and colder than most of the releases at the time. I think that it exalts perfectly the glacial atmosphere that surrounds these compositions. The most audible and evident folk elements can be found in “Yggdrasil” song with lots of pagan chants.
“Jutun Blood” is again faster and what astonish are the vocals by a mad Grutle. The synth parts are always present but this time less invading, letting the black metal side come out to fill the song with fury. The atmosphere here is more obscure and dramatic and is a direct reflex of the title. The drums are relentless and often on blast beats. “Gylfaginning” shows more doom parts with a thrasher riffage and epic sections. The tempo is never too fast but the continue bass drum work flows equally very well, to create a sort of a carpet under the instruments.
If “Wotan” is more canonical in its black metal style, the last, long “Isöders droning” shows more acoustic parts with arpeggios and pagan chants without forgetting the most brutal side in the electric guitars sound and the black shrieks, in a perfect mix of paganism and black art. Overall, I feel to recommend this album to the lovers of pagan black metal of course and mostly to the ones who want to discover one of the most important bands from northern Europe.
This is a pretty enjoyable album with some atmosphere in it. There are a lot keyboards here and they done pretty well, they really sounds unseparated from the songs themselves and they usually put in the right place for the right purpose.
The intro 'Frost' is instrumental done with synth. It's a pretty mysterious one with some choirs backing the main theme. It's a slow one and you'll begin to like it after a several listenings. 'Loke' begins exactly where the former track stopped, but it changes the whole atmosphere from side to side. It's a fast and brutal song with some simple and raw riffs. There is also a nice mid break and the ending is pretty creepy with some evil and harsh laughters. 'Fenris' begins with a short echoed declamation. It develops pretty good until the first verse and then it's continues with some great riffs and intense drumming to the whole song. 'Yggdrasil' is a nice relaxing song between all the brutal riffs and drumming. It has clean vocals all the way, it keeps a slowly tempo and clean pluckings for the first two minutes and then it changes a bit with some distorted guitars and more heated vocals, but they are still clean and the song still remains pretty slow. It's awesome track, maybe the best here, it has a unique viking spirit into it and you can feel a chilled atmosphere with winds, mountains and deep forests.
'Frost' really brings with him a unique feeling of frost, it's a wonderful atmospheric experience, but it's a bit overlong. Anyway, if you looking for a good atmospheric and raw black metal album, I'm pretty sure you'll like this one!
"Frost" are one of those few albums that are worthy of being called "epic". This masterpiece starts off with the title track, a beautiful atmospheric instrumental track that sets the stage for this classic album. This atmosphere grows until the essence of the album manifests...exploding with furious riffing and blastbeats as a tortured voice screams into your ears, bringing alive the dark track known as "Loke".
As I discovered for myself, songwriting on this album is magnificient. The synth elements, bass solos and the occasional clean vocals found at various points in the album all add to the albums many dimensions. I found this album so awesome because of the multitude of elements. These make the album unique, compared to other BM that are monotonous and turn tedious after a while.
Soundwise, the production is EXCELLENT. The guitars and drums are just right in the mix, and the bass is heard rumbling away in the background. Even in the vocals there are so many variations...from raspy shrieks to clean singing to spoken parts.
With Frost, these Norwegian Black metallers have created a phenomenal album combining melody, speed, atmosphere and aggresion. I have enjoyed very few other BM albums to such an extent. This is a must have.
Enslaved is what I like black metal - progression, atmosphere and mystery - three words that make perfect black metal album. Sadly, there only few such BM records and "Frost" is surely one of them.
With "Frost" my thoughts travel to the elder lands once inhabited by those barbarian tribes - the lands of frost and wild nature. Ah... how I love thinking of the dark ages. Probably I am not the only one who does - and for those of you, who do - this is a perfect recording.
From the music side, "Frost" is much more than just atmospheric black metal. Yes - classic black metal stuff like rustling guitars, blastbeats and growls are still here, but this is only the base for what Enslaved builds of music. Advanced keyboards, acoustics, clean and very recognisable, majestic singing, complicated riffs and many other - this is what makes this album original and interesting. Even if you want to hear just BM in this music - you will get confused by how it differs from everything else.
What is surprising, "Frost" is not only original - it is also various in itself, but always at the top level.
For those who love black metal magic - run for this cd!
Enslaved’s Frost comes from the second wave of Norwegian black metal, with plenty of synthetic atmosphere in the vein of Emperor’s In the Nightside Eclipse. It is interesting, however, that the former predates the latter in release date by nearly 7 months...
The album begins with the title track, a synth-orchestral intro. Very well executed, perfect introduction to the album. “Loke” begins with epic, soaring guitarwork, which soon gives way to searing, full-speed black metal.
After a short spoken-word intro, “Fenris” picks up with a brilliant riff that actually... grooves. It’s followed by a brief acoustic passage, leading into the track’s mid-tempo first segment. The keyboard parts in this song are absolute genius. Somewhere around 3:30 we shift to more blitzkrieg drumming, broken up by guitar/keyboard breaks. Then at about 5:17, we get another brilliant keyboard melody, this time taking the lead. Afterwards, more blastbeats, which at this point are getting slightly tedious... but they advance to lightning speed near the end of the track, making for good, clean BM fun.
“Svarte Vidder” has some wonderful atmosphere going for it. At about 2:10 we have an interesting riff which greatly adds to that atmosphere, and the entire song is enhanced by tasteful use of various synths. On to track 5–“Yggdrasil”. Here we’ve got a bit of Northern folk-type music, led by bellowing melodic vocals, and eventually joined by distorted guitar. This IS viking metal, remember?
Just as soon as you’ve relaxed into the folkish atmosphere, however, “Jotunblod” launches out of nowhere with more face-ripping BM. Near the middle of the song we’ve got a great church organ part, further building upon the dark atmosphere. “Gylfaginning” starts off slowly, moving into some great mid-tempo thrashing, and then into another synth-driven atmospheric passage with more of Grutle Kjellson’s bellowed clean vocals. Later on we’ve got some bizarre riffing and bass soloing.
“Wotan” is another breakneck BM track, though there’s nothing extremely outstanding here. “Isöders Dronning” begins with beautiful, haunting choir vocals and acoustic guitar, moving into more chilling BM. Various acoustic interludes and spoken-word parts are spread throughout, making this track exceedingly atmospheric.
Frost is surely one of the more underrated releases of second-wave Norwegian BM. Definitely recommended for any fan of black metal.
This is Enslaved's first release on Osmose productions. Instead of a few lengthy epics like in Vikingligr Veldi, Frost has 9 songs, some of them only 4 or 5 minutes long. Musically, they have lost some of that "raw" sound that was effective on their demos and Vikingligr Veldi, but the new sound still works very well. But they certainly haven't sacrificed any speed, the songs Wotan, Loke, and Jotunblod especially go at a breakneck pace. Some songs, like Fenris, offer very interesting changes in pace. It starts off pretty slow, then gradually speeds up a bit, then at about 3:30, vocalist Grutle Kjellson growls menacingly and drummer Trym leads a speed assault that lasts for the remainder of the song. The songs Isöders dronning and Yggdrasil both make good use of accoustic guitar, several of the songs have catchy synth bits, and Ivar Bjørnson's guitar work is solid throughout. Spoken vocals that I enjoyed so much, especially on the Hordanes Land song "Slaget i skogen bortenfor," return for a little bit at the end of Isöders dronning.So overall a very good release from Enslaved. Although their later work became very experimental and the vocals became more philosophical and in English, Frost is a good example of classic Norwegian viking black metal.