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As with many of the black metal demos of the early 90's Norwegian scene, Enslaved's 'Yggdrasill' is quite a promising piece of work from young musicians who sought to throw in their contribution to the budding style. Unfortunately, the band's talent and otherwise good music would be made difficult to listen to through the incredibly muffled and crackly produciton. Luckily, the year after this would bring their first real triumphs, but even as a fan of the lo-fi black metal material, I find that the production here makes 'Yggdrasill' a piece of work that can be difficult to sit through at times.
There is some material here that would later be refined on Enslaved's debut, but as it is, the music here is promising, but rarely hits the mark right on cue. Coming to my attention as a split with fellow Norwegian black metal act Satyricon, one can really tell even here that Enslaved was doing something a little different than the others. Apart from distancing themselves from the popular ideology of the style, Enslaved has many more mellow moments here than in most other similar demos.That being said, there are still the tritonal chord changes, shrieks, howls, repetition of quickly picked guitar riffs and so forth. On top of that though are usually some keyboards or melodic elements which would still sound a bit tacky for the band this point, but just as well set them apart from the contemporaries.
The atmosphere and vibe is fairly typical for earlier black metal, so there's little here that will come unexpected to a more modern listener. Although Enslaved would only reach a truly respectable level with the debut and the 'Hordanes Land' EP, there is a large increase in quality here over the first demo 'Nema', as well as much of the other lesser-known black metal of its day. 'Yggdrasill' would indeed be a great demo were it not for the production, which- for lack of better parlance- sucks, even by black metal standards. It can be difficult to hear the performance properly when squinting through a layer of crackle and muddy recording.
A good demo from Enslaved, and would be quite enjoyable as a piece of earlier black metal were it not for the obvious issues with recording.