Enslaved - _Eld_
(Osmose Productions, 1997)
by: Steve Hoeltzel (
Enslaved has always had a highly evocative sound: guitars that ring with echoes of vast, windswept spaces; ferocious rhythms that summon images of surging seas, rains of arrows, and snapping bones. And without a doubt, _Eld_ is their most fully realized and evocative recording yet. Harsh riffing with a fine feel for underlying melody, and driving, often raging rhythms are arranged and ordered more organically and with somewhat greater complexity than before. In addition, really stirring 'clean' vocals are used with great effectiveness, adding lots of emotive texture to an already impassioned sound. Check out "Alfablot", a simply incredible song: harsh vocals and excellent drumming propel furious, engaging riffs which glide effortlessly into haunting slower sections, graced by clean vocals that are wonderfully phrased and well performed. If Grutle can learn to deliver these cleaner parts with the same kind of vocal power that his harsh vocals display, then some of these passages will really sound majestic. As is, they still sound great, and they are artfully used to provide melodic phrasing to blasting passages ("Kvasirs Blod") and to sections of more subdued rhythmic strumming, as in "793 (Slaget Om Lindisfarne)". The latter is the album's 16-minute(!) opening track, which runs the gamut from mellow synthesizer score to laid-back, rhythmic strumming to all-out blistering attack. Also notable is "For Lenge Siden", which tones down the ferocity a bit, only occasionally blasting; mostly rocking, pounding, and galloping its way through a collection of tough, catchy riffs. This is simply a -great- record, by a band with a distinctive sound, alive with Northern black metal's deep ferocity, powerfully expressive, and skillfully refined.
(article published 5/13/1997)
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