Friday, January 14, 2011

Enslaved - Eld

Just look at Grutle sittin' there thinking he's Astor's plush horse...well, on Eld he was, and so was Ivar, and so was the new drummer Harald Helgelson (who replaced the almighty Trym).  
Enslaved basically took 3 years off between Frost and Eld, and they came back with a little bit more spit and a tiny bit more polish.  I can't say that they matured, because Enslaved were always mature songwriters (Vikingr Veldi is waaaay sophisticated shit!), but these boys never would've been able to write a song like 793 unless they spent some time meditatin' beneath that elusive Bodhi tree.
Eld is expressive and lush, a departure from the alienating iciness that was the charm of Frost. The guitars have a wonderful static roll to them that lap over you like waves on a longboat...Ivar's riffs remain strange, as if he was trying to figure out how to play Voivod riffs, couldn't quite get there, and let them mutate into his own Viking headspace. No one will ever call his git playing flashy, but listen to the challenging riffs in Alfablot, and you'll begin to understand...Grutle is both berserker and yeoman (as always), but on Eld he really outdoes himself, displaying a passion that can only come by being totally convinced of the superiority of your material (and yourself, why aren't any other band members on the cover?) 
Drummer Harald's style is flat out unusual with super creative fills, unorthodox blasts, and toms reminiscent of kettle drums--all of which he uses to lay down some serious battle percussion. He may not be my favorite Enslaved drummer (that honor goes to Mr. Dirge Heep) but I can't imagine anyone else drumming on Eld
As with any great album, it's about the little moments that become engraved in your mind. For me it's the 2 harmonically picked bass notes played before the opening riff of Forgotten (Glemt). This is just so sweet..the tone of the notes right before this amazing riff always gets me...When people talk about epic metal, the discussion needs to begin and end with Eld.  Enslaved would go on to release other fantastic records (Monumension being a favorite) but this is a pinnacle that might go unmatched.

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