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Enslavement of Beauty is one of the little jewels I discovered and all I can say about this band is that it fucking kicks ass. Their mix of black metal and that untamed grief and passion is, indeed, one of the greatest things I've ever listened to . There are few bands that can fuck with this guys regarding metal and melancholy. This album is a masterpiece and every decent metal listener would say the same thing.
What is interesting about this guys is that despite their Norwegian nationality, their lyrics are flawlessly written in English, with glimpses of modern English here and there. The riffs are so well matched with the lyrics and the vocal line like in the beginning it was a matrix and the song was poured in the pure form.
This album appeared in 1999, when, in my opinion, every fucking metal genre and subgenre was filled with atmospheric passages and some romanticism. This is certainly my favourite period. Tony Eugene composed this album without a stain. From the twisted, longing riffs to the majestical keys, this album represents a new era of melancholical metal, and yes, it seems Norway still keeps something hidden, waiting for the perfect moment to destroy our perception.
Every black metal fan should have this little Norwegian jewel in his collection.
Sometimes a simple review just won’t do. Not for a band like of ENSLAVEMENT OF BEAUTY anyway. Reviewing the music is straightforward enough. But the lyrics and overall concept – well – go back to my opening sentence.
This is to all intents and purposes a two man band from Norway. Tony Eugene Tunheim writes all of the music and plays most instruments. His musical influences are strictly classical and metal. It doesn’t get much better than that. The band label themselves melodic black, but the black element is mainly restricted to the vocal intensity. Ole Alexander Myrholt is the man behind the vocals and lyrics. He’s got a voice that does the job, but his way with words is something else again. You’ll see what I mean in just a moment. And just for the record, he’s also in a handful of other “projects”. The next time you’re bored at work look them up. They’re all garbage. But he got lucky this time around in pairing up with Tunheim.
First up you get the mandatory intro sampling of atmospherics and events of sound. Nothing special until about the last twenty seconds when the voices enter and practically spit out the next track: “The Fall and Rise of Vitality”. A jabbing guitar melody tells you this one’s going to make its mark, and a smart interplay of demonic narration with black metal tirades do the rest. It’s hard to see what more Tunheim could have done to rise above the laughable lyrics that quote de Sade throughout and peak at the line “What excitement in my organs". And no I’m not quoting out of context. Try making that line work anywhere.
“Be Thou My Lethe and Bleeding Quietus” sounds for all the world like it’s set to be the album scene stealer after a poetic little piano reverie for an opening. Then the synths come in, and boy are they in a mood. The drums too. “Something Unique” takes temperamental to the next level with a wicked little hook that goes round-and-round in circles like a tantrum - but without ever getting boring. It’s mid-tempo all the way, but the arrangement and vocal performance manage a melting pot of aggression and tension from start to finish.
And it’s tension that you’ll find at centre stage in “The Poem of Dark Subconscious Desire”. Everything about what Tunheim does here is edge of the abyss stuff. The melody isn’t slow, but it is sad. And the structure promises to stay predictable, but never does. And then there’s the haunting album leitmotif, a gothic little piece for keyboard that comes and goes like moonlight through a crack in the wall.
“Eerily Seductive” is damn interesting for reasons both very good and very bad. Despite everything I’ve said about the dim-witted lyrics, Tunheim rarely misses the opportunity to set Myrholt’s sorry excuse for lyrics to anything but appropriate music in dramatic terms. So if the song’s called “Eerily Seductive”, you get eerie and seductive done black metal precise. A bit of a miracle really when you consider that this is yet another song where de Sade gets quoted all over the place. The end result in lyrical terms? Well, let’s just say that once I’m done writing this review, I’ll be getting in touch with the mob at the Guinness Book of World Records - to tell them I’ve found that song they’ve been looking for, that breaks the record for the number of times the rarely used word ‘fornicate’ turns up in a song.
“My Irreverent Pilgrimage” carries over the irreverence into a teasing arrangement that grows like a crescendo that you’ll miss if you blink. No such mystery surrounds “And Still I Wither”. This one sounds a medieval note in the opening flute melody that never quite lets up. And along the way the tone meanders at will before starting over because that’s exactly what the song requires.
“I Dedicate My Beauty to the Stars” is the eleven minute plus closing track. It actually runs for less than half that, but boy is this one masterful moment of melodic black brilliance or what. Yet again the music rises above the embarrassing wank that passes for lyrics to create a metal benchmark moment for the band. And as regards the length, basically the song ends before shortly relaunching with a metal fantasia on classical music themes. A kind of overture in reverse I guess.
The bonus track edition of this release includes two tracks from the band’s demo: “The Masquerade of Rhapsody” and “Colleen”. They’re actually better than a couple of the tracks that made the cut on the official release, so definitely don’t bother buying it without these extras. It’s not hard to find. And did I mention this band’s lyrics really, really suck?
In every musical collection there are always great albums that are the traditional. Then there are those that are amazingly unique, these are the gray areas people usually disagree on. Then you have bands that do the traditional with little differences, but overall improve the sound of the genre tenfold. These are those priceless gems musical activists enjoy so much. Enslavement of Beauty made one of those albums that only comes around ever so often. “Traces o’ Red” is unique enough to be refreshing, yet traditional enough to have all those qualities black metal is known for.
When this album was recorded the band consisted of two people. In charge of musical composition and instrumentation is Tony Eugene Tunheim. Vocals done by Ole Alexander Myrholt. Tunheim does a superior job with his classical approach to music. His guitar riffs are unique and amazingly well interwoven (transitions in this album are like non - other). I can only explain it by saying that his riffs are eerie at times yet emotional the next. The keyboard is played in what I would imagine Dies Irae (Circle of Leth) would play if they where still together. Fans of Kataxu, Parnassus, Limbonic Art, etc… I suggest this album above any other. Ole’s vocals are traditional black metal, but have an edge to them, the lyrics mess perfectly with the orchestral music. It was symphonic black metal should sound like. I cannot get enough of this album and have owned it for almost five years now.
By the way there is also a hidden song if one fast forwards about two minutes after the end of the tenth song. Other albums are very different from this one, I would only recommend this album to a black metal enthusiast.