The Metal Mayan
Enslaved - Heimdal (Nuclear Blast)
As the old adage goes, with age comes wisdom and with experience comes new possibilities. Few bands have demonstrated this quite like Norway's Enslaved, who have continuously pushed the boundaries of extreme music for over thirty years. Forging their own unique sound over time, the end result is an impeccable blend of Viking influences, progressive passages, and icy black metal grooves.
Compared to the number of albums released by Emperor (4), Immortal (9), Satyricon (10), and Dimmu Borgir (10), all of whom share the same early 90's Norwegian black metal heritage, Enslaved boasts one of the largest discographies in their genre. Coming in as their sixteenth full length album, Heimdal continues the band's legacy, now entering into its third decade, with force and beauty.
Opening with the sound of gentle waves under the blows of a mighty horn, played by guest artist Eilif Gundersen of Wardruna, "Behind the Mirror" unfolds in a three movement sequence where doomy gives way to majesty. Tapping into the lake (or maybe, fjord, would be more appropriate) of musical textures shared with bands such as Opeth, "Forest Dweller" is an introspective journey through towering trees that echo with the sounds of fierce northern winds.
Switching into a more psychedelic realm, "Kingdom" is a trip through time and space sure to please fans of older works of Mastodon and Baroness. For those who would like to extend this trip, "Caravans To The Outer Worlds" is an appropriately named title for a song that does exactly that. Though be warned: the intensity of the song might cause some dark or demonic hallucinations in place of peaceful ones.
Rounding out the album as the closing and longest song, the title track is a perfect supplement to the opener. Likewise constructed into several sections, the song spans from visceral to melodic. By the time the album goes to replay, it is as though the sun has set on one day and begun to rise on the next; an incredible capturing of beginnings and endings to reflect upon.
The Metal Mayan review:
The impressiveness of the legions of incredible black metal bands formed between 1991 and 1994 in Scandinavia is only second to how these same bands have evolved over time. As one of the oldest of the bunch and easily taking up a full shelf of any collector's CD library with all of their releases, Enslaved has once again rewritten the limitations of their genre.
The guitar work in "Kingdom" is mystifying, like, to quote Bathory's "One Rode to Asa Bay", an 'old crow of wisdom' calling out from deep in night. And then there is the spiritual sensation of "Forest Dweller", calling to mind tribal drums and time beyond time.
Simply stated, while there are certainly traditional elements of black metal within Heimdal, to enjoy, there is so much more to explore and to learn.
Visit your local record store and pick up Heimdal, releasing 03 March on Nuclear Blast!
Advance copy courtesy of Secret Service PR and Nuclear Blast Records
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