Register Forgot login?

© 2002-2019
Encyclopaedia Metallum

Best viewed
without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
or higher.

Privacy Policy

Arguably their best album - 100%

flightoficarus86, January 21st, 2015

With the dawn of a new millennium, it was fitting that Enslaved begin to think about their future. With former heavy-hitters like Mayhem, Darkthrone, and Gorgoroth either stagnating or changing styles, the early 2nd-wave black metal scene was at an end. So far we had seen Enslaved progress from droning progressive black, to more concise songwriters, to epic viking story-tellers with a penchant for speed. With Mardraum, they begin a slow transition into wider territories and sounds.

Those expecting another Blodhemn or Frost are in for a surprise. There are elements of both of those records here. The Bathory-inspired riffs and structures, the epic war marches and chants; the album even begins with a splendid 10-minute oeuvre not unlike “793” on Eld. The difference is that all of these elements begin to take on new qualities and occupy a different space. Everything sounds bigger, moving from the icy cave and the battlefield to stare into the night sky and ponder the distance of each star. Okay, that’s hokey as shit, but I am not sure how else to put it.

Production-wise, the bass guitar has moved back up a bit and rumbles around adding new textures and a warmer feel. The guitar continues with a tone and level similar to the squelchy balance found on Blodhemn. Harsh vocals are sharp and more aggressive than ever. I had compared the previous approach to that of Taake, Absu, and even Quorthon, but here it matches the evil of Gorgoroth. Alternatively, the cleans are explored in a higher register, quite successfully I might add. The continued use of reverb makes them sound like warnings from the ghosts of fallen soldiers.

Enslaved also explore new ideas in the riff department. The usual tremolo melodies remain stronger than ever, but are consistently broken up with spacey rock solos, country-sounding bass breaks, and Maiden-esque power chord marches. Despite the frequent genre changes, transitions are clever and surprisingly smooth. I find myself grinning frequently during this album at how seamlessly the opposing riffs are crafted together. And the drums. The DRUMS. This has always been a selling point for in how willing Enslaved is to defy typical BM convention by being extremely technical. Mardraum is no different, but the added energy here is nothing short of astonishing. This guy must have been listening to a lot of Rush prior to recording.

In the end, Mardraum definitely makes my top 3 Enslaved albums and often rivals for #1. It’s a tall order in such an amazing discography, but so much is done right. It is more explorative than the excellent Blodhemn or Frost, more concise than the Floydier Monumenstion or Below the Lights, and more technically adept than melodic masterpieces Isa or Axioma. Despite its high ratings, I don’t see many people talk much about this album, and that is a crime. You must buy this album today.