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Most people who are into the whole viking metal scene will probably have heard of Norway's Enslaved, as has surely everyone who is into the whole metal scene today and of course its significance. At one time or the other you can't skip an encounter with these northmen, because their music is as distinctive and important to the scene as were the milestones of early Bathory. Enslaved is one of those bands that you have to respect in a way or another, even though you don't like what they are doing. Call them whatever you want, they have managed to immortalize themselves within their music.
The early Enslaved works will probably be known only to the die hard fans who were there since day one of the establishment (or better said: ruins) of what we used to call black metal. Raw and majestic, epic and romantic, harsh but creating the most immortal atmospheres in music. Once you get to know the true beauty of this music, it grasps you and never lets you go. The musical patterns that evolve through the raw and sloppy recordings is a relic from the past, which less people and most of all musicians seem to negate. Too bad, since we can learn a whole lot from these old epic tunes.
Early Enslaved material is, like most early demos, not that easy to get into, simply because most people will argue that bad or horrible production affects the music in such a way, that nothing of enjoyment from the music remains, except maybe, a good laugh. This of course is very superficial and for those who know how to savour a good demo tape, Enslaved's Yggdrasil is a one of a kind, majestic masterpiece. The instruments do not sound as if they recorded the songs inside a soup pot, but rather clear for its time, with a great deal of focus on smooth song progression, with few keyboard tunes that add up to the viking theme. The tempo changes and guitar melodies really give you the shivering Nordic feeling, as if wandering through a blizzard, crawling through caves and warming yourself at a fire, drinking mead and presenting your tales to your fellow companions. The music presented here is quite authentic and delivers exactly what's important, using only very few elements and skipping the overproduction and blandness of our time. The eagerness with which the songs stand is awe-inspiring and imposing. Every aspect of the music, be it the vocals or be it the operatic keyboard parts, interconnect perfectly into a whole, that the band named after the great tree of life, Yggdrasil, which is a very fitting name.
What better presentation of old Norse mythology could there be than from the cold north itself? The band members were very young at the date of the recording and only had a vision: to rebel in such a way, that it is both culturally significant and painfully effective. With this demo tape, they have truly written history for a scene of people, that have made their imprint on the great book of heavy metal and dedicated their lives to the more darker side of life, which is by no means at all, unrewarding.