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Important Viking/Black Release - 89%

CHRISTI_NS_ANITY8, August 11th, 2008

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.