Enslaved - Eld
Osmose Productions
Black/Viking Metal
7 songs (58:41)
Release year: 1997
Enslaved, Osmose Productions
Reviewed by Goat

As majestic and forward-thinking as all of their albums are, Enslaved’s third full-length is especially noteworthy. Following on from the gnarled Viking-themed classics of 1994, Eld takes a subtly different path – it’s notably more Progressive in style, evolving from the pure ambience and icy atmosphere of before to a more Bathory-esque approach to Viking Metal. The opening sixteen minute epic, 793 (Slaget Om Lindisfarne) has a lengthy ambient intro before sliding into almost an almost Folk Metal passage, Grutle Kjellson’s clean vocals reverberating behind upfront guitars and very organic-sounding drums (seriously, they could well be wood blocks) played by Harald Helgeson. It’s almost a Pagan take on some of Opeth’s mid-period material, lush guitar passages with sudden increases in speed as the band dip into the Black – very interesting and absolutely gripping for fans of Moonsorrow and the like, Enslaved’s influence on them absolutely obvious. The track continues, switching between melodic Prog fluctuations and outright Black Metal, vocals staying clean and reflective, and it’s hard not to want to just listen to it on repeat, it’s that good.

It’s interesting to consider the differences between Eld (‘fire’) and its predecessor, Frost. The whole atmosphere here is different, warmer, more of a forest on a warm summer’s day compared to Frost’s icy mountain – the cover art alone is remarkable, placing Grutle back in time and aging the album perfectly without giving it the barest hint of LARP silliness. Coming across this album is always like uncovering a historical artefact, for me, a musical rendering of the past with modern instruments that succeeds in every way possible. The aforementioned 793 is as hypnotic an experience as slightly shorter tracks from Vikingligr Veldi, holding your attention fully as the time slips away, and it’s a testament to Enslaved’s songwriting skills (remember that guitarist Ivar Bjørnson was only nineteen at the time of Eld’s creation) that the album stands up so well as a whole – the following tracks as good if not better. Hordalendingen rattles along with Black Metal gnarliness, moments of Prog calm and beauty woven perfectly into the track’s tapestry, whilst the following Alfablot is possibly even more violent, a storm of fiery wrath that ends abruptly when the band switch to Folky melody.

Several eight-minute tracks in a row follow, exploring various facets of the band’s sound, For Lenge Siden especially excellent as it allows the riffs to take the lead and interact stunningly with the drums. This seems to be reversed on the following Glemt, drums battering away technically in the foreground whilst guitars shiver behind, closing as the track continues. Through all, despite their length (the shortest track on the album is over five minutes) you never lose interest, never find your attention slipping – it’s certainly well composed and is very ahead of its time. Grandiose moments such as the slow chanting vocals on the closing title track are almost cinematic in their widescreen glory, yet the band end on a note of fury, blasting drums and croaked vocals reminding you who you’re listening to.

Those who have discovered the band with their later, Proggier material will be shocked at how heathen and well, Viking the earliest Enslaved albums are. They’re absolutely vital for all, though, especially if you’re still labouring under the delusion that Norwegian Black Metal begins and ends with the fuzzy inscrutability of Darkthrone or the majestic splendour of Emperor. Enslaved have been carving their own path since the band were formed, and yet remain something of a cult band even to Metalheads who should know better. As with Vikingligr and Frost, Eld is a must-have album, a milestone in the band’s impressive discography and an important third step if you’re following them chronologically.

Killing Songs :
All
Goat quoted CLASSIC
Other albums by Enslaved that we have reviewed:
Enslaved - In Times reviewed by Goat and quoted 93 / 100
Enslaved - RIITIIR reviewed by Thomas and quoted 92 / 100
Enslaved - Axioma Ethica Odini reviewed by Goat and quoted 92 / 100
Enslaved - Frost reviewed by Goat and quoted CLASSIC
Enslaved - Monumension reviewed by Thomas and quoted 80 / 100
To see all 11 reviews click here
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