This is the band that got me into black metal. Before them, I ignorantly thought the black metal scence was all mindless bible-bashing and simple song structures. Now, some of my favorite music is black metal, although I’m only familiar with the bands from the more progressive side of the scene. Enslaved have only gotten better and better with each album, and this is probably their best yet. “Mardraum” and “Monumension” were both a little more complex and progressive in some ways, but I think this works better. Both of those earlier albums, especially “Mardraum,” had a sort of raw, grating tone to them that didn’t go very well with the progressive elements of the music, and could get tiresome after a while. This one is much smoother. Some of the arrangements on here are just plain brilliant-the guitarwork flows over you effortlessly. The progressive weirdness actually adds to the catchiness of the songs, and this may be the greatest achievement of all. The odd-ball elements also contribute to the atmosphere in a convoluted kind of way-this album is very atmospheric, with all the darkness and sadness of black metal. I think the drums are programmed in places, which may be my only complaint. This is not only for people into black metal-if you’re interested in progressive music of any kind, and can handle a bit of screeching, I would say buy this immediately. If you’re looking for traditional straight-ahead viking metal, try their earlier releases, like “Blodhemn.”
Metal Album Reviews[RSS]
Melodic, thought provoking and absolutely unique…Untill I heard bands like Opeth, Neurosis, Isis… I hadn’t known that I could like any black/death/trash/progressive(Whatever other entitlements that could be involved) metal. This album changed my idea of metal even further. Its deffinately progressive in that vien of Opeth but it has a distinction I’ve never known untill this. This will be a contender for years to come and I can only pray this gets the praise it desevers: “Metal Album of the Year”if you love metal (and I know you do)… fork over the cash at you favorite record shop and support this metal marvel.
I wasn’t prepared for this album, the first one I’ve purchased by Enslaved. I expected much more of a black metal sound because these guys were some of the originators of the genre and I’d heard older material. But this is nothing like I expected. For example the first song uses death metal, black metal and clean vocal stylings and the riffs don’t fit into any easy classification. The chords used throughout the CD are striking in their harmonic diversity and the song stuctures show a lot of musical maturity. Oh hell they just rip. These guys are creating some new fresh sounds that are punishing in their intensity and retain the emotional resonance of black metal. But they throw in many diverse elements as well. They even use flutes as an intro to one song and damned if it doesn’t work. Progressive Viking metal? What the hell do you call this and does it matter? Enslaved obviously have not been content to remain within the confines of black metal but have pushed themselves into creating some very original and brutal music. This is one of the best metal recordings released in the last year.
ENSLAVED – Below the Lights
[*This is my first introduction to the band*]
From the opening seconds of As `Fire Swept Clean the Earth’ I was very attentive. When the Guitar, Bass and Drums came thundering in I was in instantly captivated and by the end of the 6:30 opening track I can safely say this is probably the finest Black Metal I’ve ever heard. (Granted my BM Experience is limited to say the least.)
I definitely love the Progressive influence… It is heard throughout the entire CD: Seven beautifully dark songs filled with some of the finest song writing I’ve heard since Opeth.
I’d like to consider myself a big Metal Head… But Black-Metal is genre I’ve usually steered away from… And I generally viewed it as too One-Dimensional. (With the Exception `Old Man’s Child’ newest album: Vermin – That album is amazing.) I read one of the reviews saying Enslaved is the Black-Metal `Opeth’ and to a certain degree I would have to agree… They are both clearly leading their respective Genre with Talent, Creative, and Progression. Both also blend the use of traditional Metal vocals with actually singing. Sound wise, Enslaved are definitely black metal but blend in lots of other influences. At times I hear hints of the fore mentioned `Opeth’ (mainly on the closer: A Darker Place during the slower parts.) I also hear some `Amorphis’. (Specially, on the track Havenless.) or even `Agalloch’ (Who also blend Black Metal w/ Prog and Folk influences.) Also I hear many guitar parts that actually sound like they came off a, `King Crimson’ or a `Porcupine Tree’ CD.
No matter what type of Heavy Progressive you like, I can say with certainty that I am confident you will like Enslaved’s Below the Lights CD. It is a powerful journey into the depths of a genre while still pushing the bounds of Black Metal… Atmospheric, beautiful yet at times dark and punishing. At this point I’ve only given the album 2 spins and I know this album will unfold more and more upon each listen. [ I also picked up their latest `ISA' which is also incredible]
Favorite Songs: The Dead Stare, Queen of the Night, and A Darker Place.
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Enslaved “Below the Lights” is a marriage of noise and beauty. And I don’t mean noise in the typical “blast beats and distortion” sense of the word. This is structured, layered, and progressive noise. Arve Isdal creates a landscape of dischordant riffage that seperates Enslaved from countless other ‘black’ or ‘viking metal’ band. “Below the Lights” is a polyphonic experience, in which a wall of odd riffs, viking-like and lightning fast drumming, classical influences, ambience, and electronics bombard the listener in a maelstorm of brutal sound. Enslaved have opted not to take the Opeth route where they would seperate these elements into their own sections of the song; rather they throw it all out at once, creating a pummeling sound that is both unrelenting and oddly atmospheric. For seven songs and roughly half an hour Enslaved never produce a dull moment on this album. ‘The Crossing’ has a great build up of mid-paced riffing and drum cadence only to be completely obliterated by soaring screams and lightning fast riffs the likes of which you have never heard. “Queen of the Night” throws in Nordic-folk and “Havenless” features an awesome Viking chant. This album also features and abundance of what I consider to be very David Gilmour (Pink Floyd) like guitar solos in that they are high pitched, drawn out, and wail with a certain blues element to them.
This album is flawlessy produced and very original; most bands would kill to sound this good on their seventh album. Enslaved have captured the throne which was abandoned by Emperor a few years prior. Bow down Dimmu Borgir, you have been Enslaved.