May 5, 2023 Enslaved – Heimdal (Album Review)
The wheels of creation keep turning for Bergen, the eclectic suppliers of Norway’s ever-evolving Enslaved Extreme Metal. Released on March 3, 2023 via Nuclear Blast, the sixteenth album, heimdal, with its gnarled roots embedded in their homeland’s old-school Black Metal world, continues a legacy that has grown since 1991. Yet Vocalist/Bassist Grutle Kjellson and his childhood friend and Guitarist Ivar Bjornson’s outward branches of creation are constantly on the lookout, refusing to be chained to the borders from which they come.
heimdalLike most albums before it, it exists by challenging Enslaved’s roots without betraying them. And this is where the magic of the group lies. Many groups consciously deviate from their origins and do so for a myriad of reasons. All you have to do is listen to “Forest Dweller” once, with its dreamy, exciting beginning. Here, Enslaved evokes the Pink Floyd and Rush of the 1970s, with fluttering keys and atmosphere, then weaving it with a series of fiery Black Metal riffs and ferocious vocals. However, they do everything so flawlessly that you might think that ’70s Prog Rock and Black Metal were always intertwined. Also, note the Hammond-organ-esque keys that come with harsh, clean vocal interplay. As a result, Enslaved running at this thoroughbred level.
At this point, Enslaved had long acquired a creative license to stray from the path of orthodoxy in audio. Only with their sincerity and loyalty to their muse have they won the trust of their album-by-album fanbase. With that in mind, “Congelia” comes out with a fast Metal foundation. Halfway through, you are carried away by the trance-like cadence of the song. Keyboards are plentiful, but their velvety sound is never left without enough bite.
After that, “The Eternal Sea” showcases Hakon Vinje’s vocal intelligence and gives us Bjornson and second Guitarist Ice Dale’s propensity for repetitive riffs; it numbs us (but never bores) until the song ends quickly. This is “Caravans to The Outer World”, another example of a song that oscillates between thoughtful and ethereal prog and abandonment of the blackened battery.
The restless lyric dripping with confidence, heimdal For these veterans, it’s a fabulous addition to a star-rich career that seems fueled by an endless source of creative impulse. This will undoubtedly top the list of year-end albums for 2023. For these reasons, Cryptic Rock heimdal 5 stars out of 5.