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Epic savagery and vast imagination - 90%

TowardsMorthond, June 21st, 2012

Three lengthy songs of epic, dynamic black metal make up Enslaved’s debut EP, executed with a high level of proficiency, thematic urgency, and masterful orchestration of pace in harmony with the conceptual context. These grand songs inspired by tales of secret wisdom and dark mystery derived from Norwegian folklore are constructed out of a handful of inventive, thematically- perceptive riffs which are like folk melodies played with the speed and energy of black metal, with occasional acoustic backing, phrased in extended passages representing a long, meditative journey through harsh conditions, interrupted with sections of blasting mayhem to portray anticipated yet unpredictable encounters of violent confrontation.

Though the production is ambiguous to instrumental detail, particularly the drums, one can still be amazed at the sheer intensity and skill of these blurred passages of frenzied violence in which riff-shapes discover a freedom within open-ended distance of sound to emphasize the full range of tonal noise emerging from each chord. The extension of phrases allows a gradual development of elemental unity, in turn supplying each passage with its own meaning as an essential aspect to the substance of the entirety.

In each song we hear extended passages of contemplative beauty, moved by an energetic rhythm as defined by a measured tempo and lead guitar melodies of reflective character, sometimes accented by simple, dramatic keyboard patterns; these slower, more meditative movements alternate with passages of breathtaking attacks of violence, marked by chaotic, fast riffs in powerfully unrelenting rhythmic surges, enhanced in hostility when Grutle’s berserker screams emerge to provide a quality of wild aggression and bloodthirsty vengeance. The music is mighty and beautiful, powerful and mysterious in its sense of adventure and communication of the ancient wisdom and warrior spirit of the Viking age applied to modern life.