18 October, 2012

Enslaved: Thoughts Like Hammers – new video

ENSLAVED, one of the most dependable components in extreme metal's indestructible backbone, have, luckily for us, released a new, Jerome Siegelaer-directed video. They have conquered the world with their latest album, ‘RIITIIR’, issued in Europe in September 2012 and in North America in October 2012 on Nuclear Blast, and will surely convince those few undecided left to their cause with their new visuals (or will at least help relieve those of their excessive bodily fluid). The album that caused The Obelisk's H.P. Taskmaster to write 3,400-word review, as well as being ENSLAVED's longest album to date, was recorded in Bergen, Norway at Duper Studios, Earshot Studios, Solslottet Studios, and Peersonal Sound. ‘RIITIIR’ was mixed by Jens Bogren and mastered by Tony Lindgren at Fascination Street Studios in Örebro, Sweden. The team of producers includes Ivar Bjørnson, Grutle Kjellson, Herbrand Larsen, and Iver Sandøy, while the album's artwork was created by Norwegian artist Truls Espedal. ‘RIITIIR’ should be acquired  here (ENSLAVED official site):
“For a band that went from a gnarly black metal band writing songs about Vikings to a band writing black metal songs about Vikings but really digging shoegaze and prog, they’re stretching out even more than usual. It’s probably their proggiest album in addition to being their least-metal in spots. Then again, it’s got some uncharacteristically raw viciousness for brief stretches of time. ‘RIITIIR’ segues so efficiently from snarling and personal to ethereal and all-encompassing that the record's scope seems full and endless. There are few bands that sound as fully in control of everything that exists than ENSLAVED, and how in the fuck am I supposed to sum up Everything?” [‘RIITIIR’ overwhelmed MetalSucks' Sammy O’Hagar – more here]

Some of you may even remember ENSLAVED's prototypical Norwegian black metal beginnings back in 1991, when guitarist and keyboardist Ivar Bjørnson and vocalist and bassist Grutle Kjellson started the band in Sveio, Norway. Two demos and an EP preceded ENSLAVED's debut studio album ‘Vikingligr Veldi’, featuring drummer Trym Torson, that was followed quickly by ‘Frost’ on which Grutle Kjellson led the band towards Viking metal with “plenty of throat splitting call-outs to various Norse gods and apocalyptic battle descriptions”, as put by Jason Anderson, AllMusic (more here). ENSLAVED's third LP, 1997's ‘Eld’, was recorded with Harald Helgeson behind the drum kit, as 1998's ‘Blodhemn’ introduced drummer Dirge Rep (Per Husebø) and guitarist Richard Kronheim. If we are to believe respected reviewer Eduardo Rivadavia (of AllMusic renown) it was the involvement of respected producer Peter Tägtgren (HYPOCRISY and PAIN) that made the band sound Swedish (shorter songs and cleaner, more compressed sound) on their fourth album (more here). ENSLAVED first incorporated progressive metal elements into their unique brand of Scandinavian black metal on 2000's album ‘Mardraum – Beyond The Within’, a trend they continued on ‘Monumension’, released a year later:
“ ‘Monumension’ is a truly daring album, one that embarks on a refreshingly original journey through grand, dignified metal passages, exceeding many expectations. Blastbeat-worshipping purists may not agree, but to close one's mind to the dark atmospheres of ‘Monumension’ is to overlook a bold step forward for the Viking/black metal genre,” [praised the second recording featuring guitarist Richard Kronheim John Serba, AllMusic – more here]
Arve Idsal took up guitar on ENSLAVED's last album issued through Osmose Productions, 2003's ‘Below The Lights’, and Cato Bekkevold replaced Dirge Rep on drums on the band's consequent 2004's ‘Isa’, described as “a tour de force by any definition” by Mr. Rivadavia, AllMusic (more here). In 2006 the band came up with ‘Ruun’, their second Candlelight Records release and the second album to feature keyboardist and vocalist Herbrand Larsen; ‘Ruun’ was awarded with 2006's Spellman award (Norway's Grammy) for best achievement in the metal genre. With their tenth album, 2008's ‘Vertebrae’, which followed through Indie Recordings in Europe and Nuclear Blast in the U.S., ENSLAVED continued to blow away the listening public and music critics alike; the recording was described as “yet another spectacle of imagination and quality control” by Eduardo Rivadavia (more here). 2010's ‘Axioma Ethica Odini’ saw the band “reconnecting with metallic extremity on a scale arguably not heard since 2003's ‘Below The Lights’”, according to the aforementioned critic:
“In other words, the “progressive” label still looms tall among the top three or four genre descriptions applicable to ENSLAVED's ever-complex and unpredictable sound (psychedelics not so much this time around), and the fact that black metal does too is all that longtime acolytes could ask from a band honorable enough to hang onto their musical roots while constantly intriguing and captivating them with new experiments,” [more here]

ENSLAVED features: Ivar Bjørnson – guitar and keyboards, Grutle Kjellson – vocals and bass, Ice Dale – guitar, Herbrand Larsen – keyboards and vocals and Cato Bekkevold – drums


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