Tag Archives: Enslaved

Pure

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The Local Woods, This Morning
The Local Woods, This Morning

When I took the dog out for a nice long walk in the woods this morning it was rather foggy, and I took a few pictures as the scenery put me very much in mind of the kind of imagery that can be found on numerous black metal albums, such as “The Dark Hereafter” by Winterfylleth, Darkthrone’s “Panzerfaust”, “In These Woods, From These Mountains” from The Wretched End and “Death Of The Sun” by Wyrd.

In The Woods
In The Woods…

Naturally this, coupled with the atmosphere such conditions evoke, led me to spin some black metal albums when I returned home. One of these albums found itself on repeat, and it seems more than appropriate that the record in question was “Pure”, the latest release from Norwegian band In The Woods…

Christian "X" Botteri
Christian “X” Botteri

The band formed way back around 1992 by three members of metal band Green Carnation – being guitarist Christian “X” Botteri, bass player Christopher “C:M.” Botteri and drummer Anders Kobro.

Adding singer Jan Kenneth Transeth and guitarist Oddvar “A:M” Moi, the band released three studio albums between 1995 and 1999 before the band split in 2000 after the release of compilation album “Three Times Seven On A Pilgrimage”.

Christopher "C:M." Botteri
Christopher “C:M.” Botteri

In 2014 it was announced that the initial threesome of Botteri, Botteri and Kobro had reunited as In The Woods… and then last year came news that singer James Fogarty was to complete the new incarnation of the group. These four are responsible for “Pure”, with additional lead guitar provided on the final three tracks by Bjørn “Berserk” Harstad.

Anders Kobro
Anders Kobro

Looking at the few pictures of the band that can be found online you’d be forgiven for thinking that In The Woods… are not perhaps the happiest of bands. Lyrically, however, “Pure” would seem to counter that to some degree with lines such as  “…a shining future waiting, a promise of the pure…” or “…we left the darkness, walking into the light…” to balance against mentions of darkness, black holes and grief.

Jan Kenneth Transeth
Jan Kenneth Transeth

Musically, the band are not straight forward black metal by any means. With progressive and avant-garde stylings present throughout their relatively brief back catalogue one could perhaps make comparisons to the likes of fellow Norwegian act Ulver. I felt there are echoes of modern-day Enslaved and Swallow The Sun to be heard within these grooves.

Oddvar "A:M" Moi
Oddvar “A:M” Moi

What’s beyond dispute (at least to my ears) is that this is the kind of album that lends itself perfectly to this time of year and the colder, gloomier weather that comes with it – just as the aforementioned Swallow The Sun’s epic three-disc “Songs From The North” from last year still does. Granted “Pure” cannot compare with “Songs…” in terms of scale and variety but more than holds its own as a great piece of work.

James Fogarty
James Fogarty

Opening with the title track the vibe is at once doomy yet spacey, and displays the album’s rich and warm production. Fogarty’s voice is powerful enough to stand out over the heaviness of the guitars, bass and drums and the compositions are both complex and accessible – which is no mean feat.

There isn’t a truly weak track on this record, but for me the picks of the bunch would have to be “Towards The Black Surreal”, “Cult Of Shining Stars” and the ten-minute-plus instrumental piece “Transmission KRS”. “The Recalcitrant Protagonist” isn’t far behind either.

In The Woods...
In The Woods…

Guitar work throughout the album is imaginative and impressive. Sometimes hypnotic and sometimes crushing, but never dull. The same can be said of the vocal lines too. I suppose atmosphere is the word that might best be used when thinking about the sound of this record.

Many reviewers have commented that the album sounds dated and disappoints in comparison to the group’s earlier work. Well, “Pure” is my entry point to the band so I am, I guess, in the fortunate position of not being able to hold it up against the likes of “Omnio” (1997) or the debut “Heart Of The Ages”. I wouldn’t agree that the material sounds dated, however. To me “Pure” is fresh, has vitality and is an organic sounding album that ought to see wider recognition that will likely be the case for a relatively low-key band in a niche genre. Good stuff!…btm

“Pure” tracklist:

1. Pure / 2. Blue Oceans Rise (Like A War) / 3. Devil’s At The Door / 4. Recalcitrant Protagonist / 5. The Cave Of Dreams / 6. Cult Of Shining Stars / 7. Towards The Black Surreal / 8. Transmission KRS / 9. This Dark Dream / 10. Mystery Of The Constellations

The Dark Hereafter

winterfylleth-the-dark-hereafter

winterfyllethI have talked briefly about Manchester-based black metal band Winterfylleth before, when they were the opening act at Behemoth’s 2014 show at the O2 Academy in Birmingham. At that time I mentioned that the band’s name is taken from the Old English for “Winter Full Moon”. Other sources have stated the word to represent an ancient heathen festival to welcome the first full moon of winter, and others still that it simply means “October”. The band’s own stance on this, taken from their official website, states that it “represents the first full moon in October as well as the Anglo-Saxon festival of the arrival of winter.”

Winterfylleth - The Ghost Of Heritage (2008)
Winterfylleth – The Ghost Of Heritage (2008)

Lyrically the group strive to portray “tales of England’s archaic history, re-counting major events, battles, the spiritual outlook of the people and the way they lived and even draw inspiration from certain sites and scenery that grace the countryside of England and have played an integral part in England’s history.”

Winterfylleth - The Mercian Sphere (2010)
Winterfylleth – The Mercian Sphere (2010)

This intent has led to accusations of racism in the past and the band describing themselves as English Heritage Black Metal is bound to draw comparisons with other bands who celebrate the ancient heritage of their particular countries. Inevitably this national pride is often viewed as national socialism, or simply put, Nazism – particularly during turbulent times such as those we find ourselves in these days with such fierce debate around subjects such as multiculturalism and migration where folk talking of their country’s history are often perceived as anti-everywhere-else.

Winterfylleth - The Threnody Of Triumph (2012)
Winterfylleth – The Threnody Of Triumph (2012)

I am not overly concerned with the personal views of the members of bands that I listen to, and take the view that the lyrics form a part of the whole package – just as plot elements of films and books do – and that I don’t have to agree with or endorse any such views to appreciate the music on offer, as touched upon when talking about Shining’s latest album “XI : Everyone, Everything, Everywhere, Ends”. That said, I do not personally feel that writing and singing about the history and landscapes of your homeland should be considered as racism and that too often these days political correctness does more harm than good.

Winterfylleth - The Divination Of Antiquity (2014)
Winterfylleth – The Divination Of Antiquity (2014)

Anyway, enough rambling – what’s the new record like, I hear you ask? Well, “The Dark Hereafter” is Winterfylleth’s fifth studio album and follows on from 2014’s offering “The Divination Of Antiquity”. The first thing to note is that whilst previous albums have nine or ten tracks and clocked in at around an hour, this one contains only five tracks and has a duration of just over 40 minutes.

Ulver - Bergtatt – Et Eeventyr I 5 Capitler (1995)
Ulver – Bergtatt – Et Eeventyr I 5 Capitler (1995)

Of those five tracks one, “Led Astray In The Forest Dark”, is a translated-into-English cover of a track first recorded under the title “Capitel I: I Troldskog Faren Vild” by Norwegian band Ulver back in 1995 on their debut album “Bergtatt – Et Eeventyr I 5 Capitler”. Ulver are one of the band’s primarily influences, along with acts such as Enslaved and Slavic black metal bands like Drudkh. The album artwork is also clearly influenced by the Ulver debut.

Chris Naughton
Chris Naughton

Another track, “Pariah’s Path”, appeared as a bonus track on the aforementioned “The Divination Of Antiquity”. This suggests that, even though band leader Chris Naughton reckons that they are about two albums further down the line in terms of writing they were perhaps a little short of inspiration when preparing for “The Dark Hereafter”?

Simon Lucas
Simon Lucas

Whether or not that is the case I do think it’s fair to say that this is another really good record from one of the shining lights of today’s black metal scene. It may not be black metal in the traditional corpse paint and Satanism sense, but there seems to be a definite shift in appreciation for history and nature in recent years and Winterfylleth’s music fits in with this perfectly.

Nick Wallwork
Nick Wallwork

This isn’t “summery” music. The soundscapes here compliment the colder and bleaker seasons and suggest the majesty and beauty of the beautiful lands in which we live. Beauty may seem like an odd choice of word for such harsh and brutal music but the elements of folk music (though there is less of that than on the previous albums) together with clean and choral vocals that form part of the sound help to give a broader feel to proceedings. I also think it’s perfectly possible to appreciate the beauty in our landscapes during the coldest and wettest times of year so see no issue with doing the same with the aural representation on this album.

Dan Capp
Dan Capp

Of the remaining tracks it is without doubt “Green Cathedral” that is the highlight and centrepiece of the whole record. Not only due to its length (using up 13 of the 40 minute total) but also due to the sheer expansiveness of the song. Apparently influenced by author Ben Myers who wrote “The Green Cathedral is a place, a series of places, a philosophy, a feeling, a mind-set, a movement, a lack of movement, a meditation. Many meditations. It is walking and running, sitting and seeing…” this is surely the group encouraging us to get out and reconnect with nature – or at very least imagine that we are doing so whilst immersing ourselves in the music (best experienced through headphones). A truly excellent piece of music.

Mark Deeks
Mark Deeks

Winterfylleth these days features founding members Naughton (vocals / guitars) and Simon Lucas (drums / vocals) joined by long serving bassist Nick Wallwork, new boy guitarist Dan Capp (who also does the artwork) and keyboard player Mark Deeks. Though the overall sonic template hasn’t altered much since day one for this distinctive outfit I do feel that each release has shown some progression and development from the previous one, and “The Dark Hereafter” is no exception.

Winterfylleth
Winterfylleth In 2015

Although if you discount the inclusion of “Pariah’s Path” it is essentially only really three new songs and a cover this is still a really worthwhile addition to the band’s catalogue. The title track and “Ensigns Of Victory” are good, if typical, Winterfylleth tunes, but the best of the record is without doubt the aforementioned “Green Cathedral” and the really great version of “Led Astray In The Forest Dark”. Well worth exploring as the winter draws in…winterfylleth-btm

“The Dark Hereafter” tracklist:

1. The Dark Hereafter / 2. Pariah’s Path / 3. Ensigns Of Victory / 4. Green Cathedral / 5. Led Astray In The Forest Dark

A Piece For Mind & Mirror

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Enslaved
Enslaved

The latest new album that I have found myself immersed in comes from the meeting of minds of Ivar Bjørnson, founding member of Norwegian progressive black / Viking metal band Enslaved, and Einar Selvik, founding member of fellow Norwegians, folk metal band Wardruna.

Wardruna
Wardruna

Apparently commissioned as a piece to be performed at 2014 Eidsivablot festival to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Norwegian constitution, the two men decided that they wanted the piece to be heard more widely and thus entered the studio to record “A Piece For Mind & Mirror” under the banner of Skuggsjá.

Ivar Bjørnson
Ivar Bjørnson

You would perhaps expect Skuggsjá’s music to sound like a cross between Enslaved and Wardruna, given who the creative forces behind the project are. Bjørnson contributes vocals, guitars, bass and keyboards whilst Selvik provides vocals, taglharpa, Kravik-lyre, goat-horn, birch-bark lure, bone-flute, percussion and electronics.

Einar Selvik
Einar Selvik

In addition, Enslaved men Grutle Kjellson (vocals) and Cato Bekkevold (drums) and Wardruna vocalist Lindy-Fay Hella also feature on the record. The final additional musicians involved are Eilif Gundersen (birch bark lure) and Olav L. Mjelva (harding fiddle).

Grutle Kjellson
Grutle Kjellson

The project’s website states that “Skuggsjá translates into ‘mirror’ or ‘reflection’ in the Norse language, and the piece not only contextualizes harder music’s role in the democracy in Norway in 2014, but also joins threads from the country’s ancient musical history and solidifies harder music’s position as Norway`s most important cultural export.

Cato Bekkevold
Cato Bekkevold

By highlighting ideas, traditions and instruments of their Norse past, Skuggsjá tells the history of Norway and reflect relevant aspects from the past into the present day. In light of this we reflect on ourselves as a people and nation. In a magnificent tapestry of metal instrumentation, a wide variety of Norway´s and Scandinavia’s oldest instruments, and poetry in Norse and Norwegian, Skuggsjá is a fusion between past and present, both lyrically and musically.”

Lindy-Fay Hella
Lindy-Fay Hella

Not speaking Norwegian, or having a lyric translation, means that I’m not qualified to comment on whether or not the lyrics manage to comment on music today and on the country’s history. Kjellson was quoted as saying that the piece is “…very hostile to many aspects of the constitution… very much against the way Norway was Christianised…” Musically, however, this is a very evocative album and a fabulous soundscape.

Eilif Gundersen
Eilif Gundersen

Kicking off with the brief introductory track “Ull Kjem” (translation “Wool Giant”) the gentle guitar notes underpinned by an insistent drum and with pipes and narration all serve to transport the listener’s mind to ancient times, a feeling that persists with the six-minute-plus title track “Skuggsjá” (“Mirror”).

Olav L. Mjelva
Olav L. Mjelva

Next up is “Makta Og Vanæra (I All Tid)” (“Power And Disgrace (For All Time)”), a ten-minute epic which brings to mind Enslaved’s excellent “In Times” opus from last year and manages to be both catchy with melodic vocal lines and stark and brutal with some old-school black metal rasping.

Skuggsjá
Skuggsjá

Instrumental track “Skuggeslåtten” (“Shadow Haymaking”?) is a nice hybrid of trance-inducing folky motifs, harmony guitar playing and some staccato riffing all building to a double-time conclusion.

Ivar Bjørnson & Einar Selvik
Ivar Bjørnson & Einar Selvik

Other highlights include “Vitkispá”, seemingly adapted from an ancient Norse poem, and the other ten-minute-plus sonic treat that is “Bøn Om Ending – Bøn Om Byrjing” (“Prayer For Ending – Prayer For Beginning”).

This is a unique sounding album, taking the best of the two composers’ day jobs and coming up with something distinctively different, even from one track to the next. The running order is beautifully balanced and the whole thing is evocative and uplifting, a superb album from start to finish and a potential for my top ten of 2016 already…

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“A Piece For Mind & Mirror” tracklist:

1. Ull Kjem / 2. Skuggsjá / 3. Makta Og Vanæra (I All Tid) / 4. Tore Hund / 5. Rop Fra Røynda – Mælt Fra Minne / 6. Skuggeslåtten / 7. Kvervandi / 8. Vitkispá 9. Bøn Om Ending – Bøn Om Byrjing / 10. Ull Gjekk

Inquisitional Tourture

20151017_103455Last Saturday night number two son and I travelled down to Bristol to catch the second date on black metal legends Cradle Of Filth’s current “Inquisitional Tourture” UK tour.

cofAlthough advertised as being at Motion, the gig was actually in the Marble Factory (part of the same site) where I saw Enslaved recently. On that occasion the doors opened later than advertised. This time the tickets stated 7:00pm but whilst we were queuing we saw a list of times pinned up outside stating that the first band was on stage at 6:45pm! It would seem that someone, somewhere has an issue with getting the door times right at this venue.

Joe Sinclair
Joe Sinclair

That first band was new metalcore band She Must Burn. They were already on stage by the time we got in but we were able to find room at the crowd barrier just to the right of the stage left P.A., giving a somewhat restricted view across the front of the stage.

Aimy Miller
Aimy Miller

Singer Joe Sinclair interacted well with the sparse crowd, and the band’s brutal sound went down pretty well. The pace let up a little part way through to allow keyboardist Aimy Miller take centre stage by taking lead vocals on the balladic “Into Light”. The band’s brief set flew by with much headbanging – particularly from guitarist Terry Clarke and new bassist Frankie Keating – and before we knew it they were onto their final song “Eclipse”.

The P.A. had obscured my view of the drums and keyboards, but number two son was certainly impressed with the sight of Ms. Miller as well as the actual music! We moved into a more central position during the intermission whilst the gear was being changed over on stage.

Ne Obliviscaris
Ne Obliviscaris

Next up were main support band, Australian extreme progressive metal band Ne Obliviscaris. Apparently the group’s name is Latin and means “forget not”, and this is entirely appropriate for this band.

Xenoyr
Xenoyr

There are six members of the band – vocalist / lyricist Xenoyr, vocalist / violinist Tim Charles, guitarists Benjamin Baret and Matt Clavins, bassist Brendan “Cygnus” Brown and drummer Dan Presland.

Xenoyr, all in black and looking very gothic, handles the harsh vocals with Charles (who resembles a smiley heavy metal Jesus!) providing fantastic clean vocals, soaring violin work and the between-song interaction with the audience. It’s worth mentioning here, as I may have commented on before, one of my pet hates at gigs. During the quieter moments of the band’s set the noise of people talking in the audience was quite off-putting for anyone that was interested in the performance taking place. Why go to a gig only to talk all the way through the support act? It’s pointless and frankly disrespectful!

Tim Charles
Tim Charles

Anyway, back to the band. A unique mixture of death , black and progressive metal with elements of jazz and avant-garde thrown in, Ne Obliviscaris have some rather lengthy songs, and in fact just four tracks were aired during their slot, and they are full of changes of pace and dynamics. I hadn’t been too aware of their material prior to the gig but have been listening to their two albums to date quite a bit since Saturday night. I have been really impressed with Presland’s quite sublime drumming too.

Setlist: (probable – I didn’t know the material but this seems to be their regular set of late)

1. Devour Me, Colossus (Part I) – Blackholes / 2. Of Petrichor Weaves Black Noise / 3. Painters Of The Tempest (Part II) – Triptych Lux (Movement I – Creator / Movement II – Cynosure / Movement III – Curator) / 4. And Plague Flowers The Kaleidoscope

1 and 3 originally from “Citadel” (2014) / 2 and 4 originally from “Portal Of I” (2012)

Marek
Marek “Ashok” Šmerda & Martin “Marthus” Škaroupka

Then at 8:30pm came headliners Cradle Of Filth. As the intro tape “Humanity Inspired To Nightmare” rolled the band trooped out onto the stage. First, drummer Martin “Marthus” Škaroupka took his place behind his large kit which was partly shielded behind an acoustic screen, something I haven’t seen at a gig before.

Dani Filth
Dani Filth

He was followed by bassist Daniel Firth, guitarists Marek “Ashok” Šmerda and Richard Shaw and keyboardist Lindsay Schoolcraft, before main man Dani Filth strode onto the stage replete not only with corpse paint but also black contact lenses, horns and a staff.

Richard Shaw Daniel Firth
Richard Shaw & Daniel Firth

The horns only lasted until the end of the first track proper “Heaven Torn Asunder”, but the black contact lenses stayed for the duration and really gave Mr. Filth a demonic look which was perfectly in keeping with his band’s material.

Lindsay Schoolcraft
Lindsay Schoolcraft

“Cruelty Brought Thee Orchids”, with introduction from Schoolcraft was greeted with a roar by the crowd, which seemed both bigger and more enthusiastic than that at the previously mentioned Enslaved show, and from then on it was a mix of classic Cradle tracks and material from the band’s most recent “Hammer Of The Witches” album.

g
Marek “Ashok” Šmerda

Musically the band were tight and ferocious. The two guitarists prowled the front of the stage along with Filth, but the drums seemed to be shoved into the corner (an impression heightened by the use of the acoustic screen) and Schoolcraft was also rather far back from the front of the stage.

Dani Filth
Dani Filth

Filth didn’t seem overly impressed by the noise generated by the audience, which was very underwhelming at times – especially when he dedicated the track “Nymphetamine” to the ladies of Bristol and was greeted by, as he remarked, “silence” more or less!

Mind you, having subsequently discovered that the previous night’s show in Nottingham had benefitted from pyro, stage props and an on-stage video screen – none of which appeared in Bristol, one might argue that the crowd were a little shortchanged. I can only presume the size of the Marble Factory stage was the reason behind this.

Cradle Of Filth
Cradle Of Filth

Despite this we thoroughly enjoyed the show, and I thought the visuals were very good. Perhaps not quite up to the standard of Behemoth last December but not far off…

Setlist:

1. Intro – Humana Inspired To Nightmare / 2. Heaven Torn Asunder / 3. Cruelty Brought Thee Orchids / 4. Blackest Magik In Practice / 5. Lord Abortion / 6. Right Wing Of The Garden Triptych / 7. Malice Through The Looking Glass / 8. Deflowering The Maidenhead, Displeasuring The Goddess / 9. Queen Of Winter, Throned / 10. Walpurgis Eve / 11. Yours Immortally… / 12. Nymphetamine / 13. The Twisted Nails Of Faith / 14. Her Ghost In The Fog / 15. Outro – Blooding The Hounds Of Hell

1, 2 and 7 originally from “Dusk… And Her Embrace” (1996) / 3 and 13 originally from “Cruelty And The Beast” (1998) / 4, 6, 8, 10, 11 and 15 originally from “Hammer Of The Witches” (2015) / 5 and 14 originally from “Midian” (2000) / 9 originally from “V Empire” (1996) / 12 originally from “Nymphetamine” (2004) 

cof2

In SaxoNorse Times Tour

ticketWednesday 23 September – my first all-metal gig of this year. Billed as a co-headlining tour between Norwegian progressive black / Viking metal band Enslaved and Swedish heavy metal band Grand Magus, I caught the tour’s first show at the Marble Factory in Bristol.

12036636_10153061013447201_6026187745346209760_nAlthough the ticket (I say ticket, but it was one of those horrible e-tickets, not like a traditional proper ticket where you get the stub ripped off on the door!…) said doors at 6:30pm and show start at 7:00pm, when I arrived I heard the people in front of me being told that the doors wouldn’t be opening until 7:00pm. As it was spitting with rain I made myself comfortable back in my car and watched the queue start to form along the pavement past the next door tyre fitters.

Bristol Marble Factory
Bristol Marble Factory

Shortly before 7:00pm security staff appeared at the gates, and around ten minutes later started to let people through. Now a problem with e-tickets is that they are supposed to be scanned but many folks, like myself, were told that the qr code was too big to be scanned, meaning that we had to be manually ticked off a list! The upshot of all these delays was that opening band Heaven Asunder (who weren’t even listed on the bill) had started their set – probably in front of a mere handful of people!

Heaven Asunder
Heaven Asunder

A Bristol-based metalcore band, Heaven Asunder certainly had a few fans in attendance, making plenty of noise in support of the band. I must confess that their particular brand of metal, metalcore, isn’t really my thing but they were clearly musically tight and enjoying what they do. Guitarist Lewis Blake did look slightly like he’d dropped in from another band but I was impressed with his fretwork, even if not moved by the band’s material as a whole.

Grand Magus
Grand Magus

After a short break for an equipment change it was time for Grand Magus to hit the stage. I had seen this bunch previously, third on the bill when I went to see Behemoth last December.

At that time I commented that the lack of a second guitar player left a hole in their sound when vocalist / guitarist Janne “JB” Christoffersson played a guitar solo, and that is still the case.

Janne
Janne “JB” Christoffersson

The group, completed by bassist Fox Skinner and drummer Ludwig “Ludde” Witt, are a great band to have on a mixed genre metal bill as their material features an accessible traditional metal sound – not unlike Manowar – with lots of anthemic sing-along qualities. They perform their Viking tales with conviction and with good humour too, and interact well with the audience.

Fox Skinner
Fox Skinner

In truth, though, I found that their set tended to drag a little towards the latter stages as a result of what I felt was a lack of variety in terms of tempo and style. Still, that never hurt bands such as Motörhead, and the band went down very well with the crowd (which had filled out to a few hundred I would guess), so it was probably just me!

Setlist: (probable – I didn’t have anything to make notes on!)

1. I, The Jury / 2. Sword Of The Ocean / 3. Kingslayer / 4. On Hooves Of Gold / 5. Steel Versus Steel / 6. Iron Will / 7. Valhalla Rising / 8. Like The Oar Strikes The Water / 9. Drum Solo / 10. Wolf’s Return / 11. Hammer Of The North

1 and 11 originally from “Hammer Of The North” (2010) / 2 and 7 originally from “The Hunt” (2012) / 3 and 10 originally from “Wolf’s Return” (2005) / 4 and 5 originally from “Triumph And Power” (2014) / 6 and 8 originally from “Iron Will” (2008)

Enslaved
Enslaved

Another gear change was followed by a roar from the assembled crowd as Enslaved entered the stage, blasting headlong into the opening track from this year’s excellent “In Times” album, “Thurisaz Dreaming”.

Grutle Kjellson
Grutle Kjellson

Bizarrely, the band – led by frontman Grutle Kjellson – were only lit from behind for the whole eight minute number (and quite often throughout the set) leaving the audience looking at silhouettes of the band and lots of red lighting. Whilst this may be, perhaps, atmospheric it is somewhat frustrating to go to “see” a band play live only to spend much of the time only being able to see them in silhouette – that said, maybe the effect was better further forward in the room?…

Cato Bekkevold
Cato Bekkevold

Musically the band were excellent. Cato Bekkevold, the drummer, had some equipment problems with his kick drums which disrupted the flow for the band a little, but I imagine there are always likely to be teething problems on the first show of a tour.

Herbrand Larsen
Herbrand Larsen

Bassist / lead vocalist Kjellson was an engaging frontman and capable of some ferocious extreme metal vocals, which were offset superbly by keyboardist Herbrand Larsen’s clean vocals. Incidentally, on the small Marble Factory stage Larsen’s keyboard riser was so high that he towered over the rest of the band (including Bekkvold and his mammoth drum kit) and looked to have his head rather near the ceiling!

Ivar Bjørnson
Ivar Bjørnson

Guitarists Ivar Bjørnson and Arve “Ice Dale” Isdal were intense and concentrated on producing a wall of sound from their instruments, and it’s here that I think the biggest problem with the band’s show lay (lighting issues aside). On record, particularly with the band’s more recent output, it is quite easy to distinguish between guitar parts and focus on individual elements of the band’s sound should you want to. In the live arena, however, although the bass, drums and keyboards are all crystal clear, the two guitarists disappeared into a kind of audio fog with even guitar solos getting lost in it.

Arve
Arve “Ice Dale” Isdal

That’s a shame, as on record Enslaved are brilliant. Following the aforementioned Behemoth concert, this was my second “extreme” metal gig and whilst I most certainly enjoyed it I would have to say that in terms of both visuals and musical performance the Polish black metal band produced the better show. That said, I’m glad I went to this show as, even with my reservations, it was definitely worth the price of admission…

Setlist : (again probable – for the same reason as above)

1. Thurisaz Dreaming / 2. Fusion Of Sense And Earth / 3. Death In The Eyes Of Dawn / 4. Building With Fire / 5. Ruun / 6. Ethica Odini / 7. Convoys To Nothingness / 8. Allfǫðr Oðinn / 9. Isa

1 and 4 from “In Times” (2015) / 2 and 5 originally from “Ruun” (2006) / 3 originally from “RIITIIR” (2012) / 6 originally from “Axioma Ethica Odini” (2010) / 7 originally from “Monumension” (2001) / 8 originally from “Hordanes Land” (1993) / 9 originally from “Isa” (2004)

enslaved-magus-uk2015

In Times

Enslaved-In-Times“In Times” is the new album from Norwegian progressive black / viking metal band Enslaved.

Enslaved
Enslaved

This band are no strangers to stretching themselves musically, particularly during their more lengthy compositions – more so than many of their contemporaries.

The tracks on this album are no exception. There are a mere six tracks – but none shorter than eight minutes in length, and one at almost eleven minutes. What this means is that there is plenty of room for a variety of moods and tempos and for the band to really show what they are capable of.

Grutle Kjellson
Grutle Kjellson

Starting with the track most representative of their black metal origins, “Thurisaz Dreaming”, the band – comprising founder members Grutle Kjellson (vocals / bass guitar) and Ivar Bjørnson (guitars), together with Arve “Ice Dale” Isdal (guitars), Herbrand Larsen (keyboards / vocals) and Cato Bekkevold (drums) instantly demonstrate that they mean business.

Ivar Bjørnson
Ivar Bjørnson

“Building With Fire” begins with a simpler style, before adding more chaotic passages to the mix, and is followed by the more viking metal sounding “One Thousand Years Of Rain” which is the first real epic on the record, the superb title track being the other. I can imagine the material on this album would, as with a lot of Enslaved’s previous work, function very well as a soundtrack to the likes of “Vikings”.

It would be hard to pick specific highlights from this record, since all six tracks are of a very high quality and have plenty to offer the listener – with lots of variety of style and pace without straying too far from the black / viking metal foundations – but if pushed I would probably go for “Daylight”, “In Times” and “One Thousand Years Of Rain”. In terms of the sound of the record, the individual performances and the material presented, this album is excellent. It is a progressive metal album in the truest sense and one well worth immersing oneself in.

enslaved-grand-magus-tour

“In Times” tracklist:

1. Thurisaz Dreaming / 2. Building With Fire / 3. One Thousand Years Of Rain / 4. Nauthir Bleeding / 5. In Times / 6. Daylight