ALBUM REVIEW: Enslaved – Heimdal


At this point some thirty years into their illustrious career, Enslaved have truly transcended into their own musical entity. Creating a genre in their own image with a highly unique sound that still stays true to their extreme metal roots, but also blends the darkness with the light of progressive rock, and providing two distinct and opposing vocal styles in a way that no other band does. 


Of course, this transition is not something they are delivering for the first time on Heimdal (Nuclear Blast Records) their sixteenth studio album. But rather a musical shift that has now been developed and honed to perfection from their starting point in the deep and dark murky depths of the Norwegian Black Metal scene of the early nineties. 


Enslaved remind us of their early ideological themes set in Viking mythology with the intro on ‘Behind The Mirror’, as we hear the sound of a war horn blowing and the rowing of a longboat emerging through water, before a stimulating guitar riff enters, the clean vocals of keyboard player Hakon Vinje provide a Ghost-like sound. But rather than fully meandering into the theatrical rock pop of their Swedish counterparts, Enslaved remind us where they come from as the snarling lead vocals of bassist Grutle Kjellson take over. 


‘Congelia’ provides moments of pure old-school black metal with marching lo-fi percussion and sweeping chords, but the track grows into an intricate sonic chaos with a jaw-dropping experimental arrangement.  



‘Forest Dweller’ once again shows their juxtaposition of the light and dark with a folky verse which gives way to a full-on raging riff and venomous blackened vox, and each proceeding track really continues to offer a little of each style, snaking around each other in an intricate haze of melody and cacophony. 


On ‘The Eternal Sea’ they provide Mastodon-like instrumentals with moments of pure ferocity, while the Astral-Projecting-themed ‘Caravans To The Outer World’ mixes more of their classic frenetic black style with moments of progressive psychedelia. 


This vastly complex collection of music closes out in style with ‘Heimdel’, where a subterranean bass synth intro is then replicated with guitars creating a menacing early Black Sabbath feel before the heavy vocals of Kjellson once again dominate a classic Enslaved-sounding verse. The track twists and turns dropping in an atmospheric spoken word section, shredding guitars, and chugging instrumental passages, rounding off a grand vision that Enslaved have executed to perfection, on an album that is up there with their best. 


Buy the album here:


9 / 10