So, almost thirty years into their career, the Norsemen in Enslaved still makes up a strange brew. Originating back in the early days of the second wave of Black Metal their path sure has taken some winding roads into the odds and ends of the progressive out lands and their new album ”Utgard” continuous their journey on those strange, but somewhat intriguing paths.
”Utgard” starts of in, kind of traditional, Viking/Black Metal-manners with some chanting ”Viking”-quires, but it doesn’t take long until you realize that your not about to take a ride on the usual fast driven road to Hades but is in for a totally different treat.
Sure, the grim, and might I say, excellent vocals of Gruttle Kjellson is never far away, but except from that and some occasional outburst of aggression there isn’t much on ”Utgard” that tattle about Enslaved’s old Black Metal-days. Instead, the music is a cacophony of styles which doesn’t, as in the almost Bubble Gum-pop sounding intro-riff of “Urjotun” even necessary is Heavy Metal or even “Rock” all of the time.
Usually the compositions consist of some harsh, more “metal” parts which leads into beautifully winding atmospheric sections, abruptly interrupted by strange progressive excursions into extraneous spaces, and although, at first glance the different styles seem impossible to in-cooperate with each other, somehow Enslaved manages to pull together everything in the end, making some real interesting and, for most of the time quite enthralling songs!
Sure, everything isn’t top notch, I sure could do without the atmospheric, but boring ambient “speech” that makes up the title song and the bland “by the book” Heavy Metal-riffing in “Sequence” makes me wonder if that is meant to be Ironic, but apart from those two minor flaws, Enslaved’s “Utgard” is a true joy!
So if you’re ready to look beyond the horizon of traditional Black Metal, or Metal at all, and aren’t afraid of some odd tosses and turns along the way, you should definitely check out “Utgard” whether your favourite band spells Darkthrone or Rush!
Label: Nuclear Blast
Playing Time: 44:43
Date of release: 2020-10-02
Land of Origin: Norway
Stand out track: Fires in the Dark