by Paul Lee
There’s an incredible depth to the violence, passion, and beauty on Enslaved‘s new CD Blodhemn. Few metal bands rival Enslaved’s musical complexity and originality. And though they project an image of ancient Viking warriors, Enslaved create some of the most intense, razor sharp, and innovative metal with Blodhemn, another amazing album in the brutal yet complex tradition. Enslaved have been part of the Norwegian extreme metal scene since 1992, and musically share similarities with some of their Nordic black metal brethren. On Hordanes Land, their split disc with Emperor, they knocked me on my ass with their epic, ten-minute songs of harshness and beauty. It was obvious that there was something incomparable about this trio (now a quartet with the addition of second guitarist R. Kronheim).
As with their last two albums Frost and Eld, Enslaved continue to chart new musical territory with Blodhemn (that’s “blood vendetta” for all of you non-Norwegian-speaking fans) with nine massive Nordic metal hymns. Enslaved have trimmed down their usual ten-minute epics to a more concise 40-minute total, most songs being under five minutes. Blodhemn‘s ferocious musical barrages are tempered by moments of beauty as on the intro song “Sudbumla: Birth of the Worlds,” and the slow and melodic finale, “Suttungs Mjog,” where bassist/singer Grutle Kjellson uses his melodic baritone to add some passionate vocals (when he’s not using his warrior screech). Many claim to be true Viking metal bands, like Amon Amarth and Einherjer, but Enslaved sing in an authentic Viking tongue, wear Viking outfits, and play like possessed Norse warriors. Easily one of my favorite metal albums this year.
(4470 Sunset Blvd. #6 Los Angeles, CA 90027)