Black steel has expanded in a thousand alternative ways because the early 90s, however no band fairly encapsulates this transition like Enslaved. From their roots within the legendary early Norwegian scene alongside Mayhem, they’ve always been including new sounds and components to remain forward of the curve. Heimdal is the furthest they’ve ever strayed from their consolation zone. It is also among the finest issues they’ve ever launched.
Do not be fooled by the title. Heimdal is just not a standard Viking steel report glad with utilizing the identical outdated tropes. Musically, it has extra in widespread with avant-garde outfits like Sigh and Intronaut than something with corpsepaint. Enslaved aren’t any strangers to basic prog worship, however their earlier efforts look like mere flirtations now. Grandiose keyboard solos, jazzy thrives and prolonged psychedelic sections in virtually each music launch Heimdal into a category all of its personal.
Take the album opener “Behind the Mirror.” Two minutes in and there is layered Mellotron results straight out of Porcupine Tree‘s finest materials. The perfect comparability for the entire album might be Opeth, however even they do not attain the extent of tight cohesion Enslaved present right here. Regardless of their earlier popularity for lengthy epics, nothing on Heimdal cracks the ten-minute mark, and even those who come shut know the right way to use their time successfully. It isn’t straightforward cramming 5 a long time of musical historical past into seven songs, however these guys make it sound straightforward. Take “Caravans To The Outer World,” which mixes thrashy riffs, doomy dirges, 70s acid rock and a Instrument-like jam in direction of the top.
The perfect instance of Enslaved‘s new sound is the only “Forest Dweller.” It is an virtually unbearably honest love letter to the nice progressive rock bands by the use of early 2000s Norwegian black steel, full with a floor-rattling keyboard solo worthy of Emerson, Lake & Palmer over Immortal fashion riffage. It is rounded off with a dreamy little bit of psychedelia with only a trace of occult rock.
Keyboardist Håkon Vinje deserves each praise he can obtain and extra. The extent of vitality he assaults his instrument with brings the whole lot else on the album up a notch as properly. These are true keyboards, not synth, triggers or soundscapes. Håkon is bringing the identical degree of finesse that Jon Lord delivered to Deep Purple or Jordan Rudess to Dream Theater. It is not possible to think about what Heimdal would sound like with out him.
For listeners who simply desire a blast from the previous, there’s nonetheless sufficient black steel to go round. Enslaved have not forsaken their roots fully they usually aren’t above throwing in a shrieking tremolo riff or two. Second observe “Congelia” is probably the most conventional black steel factor on supply, particularly in its intro part. The title observe “Heimdal” too, is prone to get the die-hards crossing their arms and scowling. The truth is, a lot of the songs on Heimdal have no less than one half that would generously be referred to as black steel. It is simply that it is often combined in with one thing as random as jazz saxophone or shoegaze.
Thank Devil that bands like Enslaved nonetheless exist. They’re completely unafraid to combine genres and types with abandon and refuse to be tied to at least one scene. Enslaved would possibly by no means escape the black steel label completely, however they certain will not be accused of promoting out both. Quite the opposite, Heimdal is so bizarre it is just about unmarketable. However then once more, wasn’t that at all times the purpose of utmost steel? Enslaved are outsiders amongst outsiders, they usually appear even happier for it. If extra teams observe their artistic instance, all of steel will profit.