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enslaved utgard
Artist: Enslaved
Title: Utgard
Genre: Black Metal / Progressive Metal
Release Date: 2nd October 2020
Label: Nuclear Blast Records


Album Review

Three years have passed since ENSLAVED’s last album ‘E’, and with ‘Utgard’, the 15th work in the band’s history, there is now fresh material. The new album was supposed to be released already in May 2020, but was then postponed due to the pandemic. ‘Utgard’ is the place where even the gods of Asgard have no control, giants wander around, madness, chaos and creativity dominate the mood in equal measure. So much for the derivation from Nordic mythology, which can be used to describe the sound of ENSLAVED’s ‘Utgard’ in exactly the same way.

The opener ‘Fires In The Dark’ already jumps to the more progressive style of its predecessors after an intro that originates from Nordic (Dark) Folk with the more-voiced male choir, oscillating between biting nagging and longing clear vocals. The following ‘Jettegryta’ reminds of the ‘Ruun’ era as clearly as no other song before - but at the same time takes a spectacular trip into the swaying Prog-Rock realms. ‘Sequence', with its many breaks and a guitar work that is not at all weird for ENSLAVED, could hardly be more proggy and reminds of the 16-year-old classic ‘Isa’. ‘Homebound’ gives the album a Rock attitude with crisp riffing and excessive solos.

Interludes, like the Norwegian spoken, spherical ‘Utgarđr’, are not understood at all as non-Scandinavians, but nevertheless the listeners are caught by the atmosphere, as long as they can get into it. The transition to ‘Urjotun’ could not be better. The song unnoticed picks up speed and pressure, becomes faster and faster and more urgent. The bass pushes further forward, while the multi-voiced vocals build up a kind of orientation. In ‘Flight Of Thought And Memory’ as well as ‘Storms Of Utgard’ ENSLAVED celebrate majestic, melodic Black Metal like they haven’t done for a long time. As if to bring all these threads together towards the end, ENSLAVED place ‘Distant Seasons’, the most diverse track on the album, in last place. Sawing guitars, Jew’s harps, mantic drumming and a wave of polyphonic singing break in over the listener and end ‘Utgard’ conciliatory and peaceful.

The fact that the Norwegians were able to compensate for the loss of singer Herbrand Larsen after his departure in 2016 by Håkon Vinje and Iver Sandøy is just one of many small building blocks in the “architectural” masterpiece that forms the basis of this album. The convincing sound and the modern as well as classic artwork also contribute their part. ‘Utgard’ is an all-round perfect work of art from its artistic orientation and realisation to its phenomenal atmosphere.


Tracklist

01. Fires in the Dark
02. Jettegryta
03. Sequence
04. Homebound
05. Utgard
06. Urjotun
07. Flight of Thought and Memory
08. Storms of Utgard
09. Distant Seasons


Line-up

Ivar Bjørnson – Guitars, Keys
Grutle Kjellson – Vocals, Bass
Arve Isdal – Guitars
Håkon Vinje – Keys
Iver Sandøy – Drums


Website

www.enslaved.no


Cover Picture

enslaved utgard


Rating

Music: 9
Sound: 8
Total: 8.5 / 10




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