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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