Enslaved
Vikingligr Veldi


4.0
excellent

Review

by Hyperbore USER (5 Reviews)
December 11th, 2008 | 194 replies


Release Date: 1994 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Darkness, light, and the human in between.

Vikingligr Veldi is Enslaved’s debut full-length album. A markedly different work from everything from Blodhemn onwards, this release foreshadows both their short-lived Viking period, and their subsequent progressive phase. All songs on this album have melodic bases in Nordic folk music, and they all make use of overbearing durations to create a sense of both arresting beauty and infinite permutations of a central idea.

Enslaved first formed with a clear vision of creating epic song structures in the service of narration of full-fledged expressions of destiny, might, and harmony in life. Most often described as “Viking metal,” these works serve to provide hallucinatory glimpses of a worldview in which moralistic terms are not reversed, but merely mistaken from the outset. Enslaved ignored the entire premise of Satanism as it was simply another of Christianity’s creations, by writing in ancient Icelandic and Norwegian, writing those lyrics about Viking expeditions and Nordic myths, and completely absolving themselves from Satanic imagery, or even darkness for darkness’ sake.

The musical expression in this work mirrors that philosophical expression. Black metal uses melodic bases to express concepts of darkness and evil. Enslaved did not work in opposition to this, but rather expanded on it. The music retains elements that challenge ideas of rectitude and peace, but it is not hateful for hatefulness’ sake. Instead, the band employs its music in this release to create hypnotic soundscapes with the intention of both lulling and revitalizing the listener. This leads one to both ignore that which is meaningless(Christian/democratic/individualist ideals) and fight for that which is worthwhile and timeless(nature/glory/introspection/an acceptance of both dark AND light). Enslaved was able to craft a work which not only mirrored the beneficial aspects of the black metal around it, but also offered a path towards taking the next step after the initial realization that "all that glitters is not gold."

Melodies on this album are primarily composed of short-lived chord progressions that are then restated ad infinitum. Over these endless phrasal clauses are laid various deviations in arpeggiated forms, leading the mind away from the central narrative without losing sight of where the deviation was born. Songs recall both trance and classical-era structural tendencies in this way, hypnotizing the listener with a statement and subsequently delivering a separate-but-related message while the trance is in effect. This elicits a two-fold effect - the first is that one is beaten into accepting the melodic structures(the narrative tale) as immutable reality, as background, leaving harmony(the individual’s reaction to the same tale) as the only venue open to malleability. The second effect is to create a sense of "drone" without betraying the use of melodic dynamics, allowing for expressions of sonic texture and ambience without sacrificing the narrative ability that has always been a component of metal music.

In making the melodic lines operate as background and pushing harmonic iterations into the fore, the band deviates from the majority of what modern music attempts - which is to create a mood and stick with it, only then(if ever) displaying a narrative structure that still remains entirely within the confines of that mood. On this album the musical structures do not pursue mood as a goal, but rather a method towards something else. For this reason, mood is in a constant state of flux – and this serves to reiterate the previous point that “good” and “evil” are nothing more than absolutist constructs which, by virtue of operating in a world where absolutes are nonexistent, serve no purpose but to obscure those innate elements of the soul which lead to majesty. In short, harmony and melody’s prioritizations within the conscious mind are reversed via these songs.

The “drone” effect serves to reinforce the above-mentioned inversion, by maintaining the melody as a constant state. Were one to pick out the basic melodic phrase(i.e. the primary riff) for each song, it would seem clear and straightforward. However, these phrases are repeated back-to-back, and as the song progresses they come to be seen not as separate reiterations of the same riff, but as a singular entity. This is similar to a cloud, which is composed of many separate water droplets, but is seen as a singular entity nonetheless - with the arpeggiated harmonic deviations and chord progressions being comparable to bolts of lightning and blasts of thunder.

These “lightning bolts” provide a constant re-emergence from the hypnotic lulls into sudden, yet not unexpected, fiery paroxysms that approach chaos. What is unique about this approach on this release is that, just as they begin to crack the song apart into absolute nothingness, these blasts of fury always return to a sense of order. These replace the use of traditional solos as found in heavy metal, speed metal, and even(to a lesser extent) death metal. Bringing the entire harmonic section into a short, thrashing chaos which is then resolved with a final statement matching the song’s original phrasal riff allows the band to construct short blasts of separate, kinetic ideas that are then re-integrated into the melodic “drone.”

In doing this, the songs’ sense of majesty is only further exemplified as the introductory phrases are restated after all other phrasal venues have been explored. These venues are found useful, for their purpose and at their place of occurrence within each song, but only as part of the process in whole. The definitive final statements in each song are always a return to what originally let loose the storm, thereby exemplifying how the cycles of both destiny and nature are long, arduous, and will inevitably result in the death of the individual; but that they are also(unlike us mere humans) unchanging, and by virtue of being inexorable, shown to be pristine.

This serves to illustrate the post-individualism and transcendental idealism that set black metal apart from simply being death metal with Satanic imagery, in a way that few, if any, other black metal albums have done. If we are willing to view the work as its own entity, not as something within the confines of any specific genre, it stands out even further as being an ideal expression of heroism, harmony, and the realities of life without the silly obfuscations we all too often allow to cloud our vision.


user ratings (389)
Chart.
4
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Hawks
December 11th 2008


69286 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This album is ok, but cant compare to albums like Frost and Vertebrae.

Digging: Hecate Enthroned - Embrace Of The Godless Aeon

Crysis
Emeritus
December 11th 2008


17372 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Album sucks.

DoctorNurse
December 11th 2008


475 Comments


Review focuses a bit too much on the intentions of Enslaved and why this album is 'metal' rather than describing the album itself.

Hyperbore
December 11th 2008


856 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

You may be right about having dwelled too long on the band's intentions. However, to have ignored that aspect entirely would have been mistaken, as the work does not exist in a vacuum; it is one of the genre's formative albums, and as such the intentions are heavily relevant to the musical construction. All the more so here since black metal, as with death metal and punk, is one of the few modern musical genres which was born as a philosophical response.



However, describing how it falls into the metal genre is something i find necessary - i only attempt to describe the compositional traits, and in these, this album is not very similar to other metal releases. All too often a band/album is called 'metal' simply because it has distorted guitars, for example. There are certain compositional methods inherent to any genre, and in this album those methods are as tied to the classical and trance genres as they are to black metal. It may not seem so at first glance, but that clarification really is just a way of describing the music on the album itself.



Thanks for the pointers, though. What, specifically, would you cut out?This Message Edited On 12.11.08

DoctorNurse
December 11th 2008


475 Comments


Maybe just condense all of that stuff and give some explanation of what it is you like about this album and why you recommend it to others.

rattlehead42147
December 11th 2008


1345 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

i hate this stupid ass album/band. this was the album where i realized "wow these guys are gay." maybe if i stuck to Frost I would still like them.

NortherlyNanook
December 11th 2008


1285 Comments


a wonderfully insightful post brought to you by rattlehead!

Eakflanderyof
December 12th 2008


2496 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Not a bad review, but there were loads of other black metal bands at that time that didn't focus on Satan. Also, you go into this extreme amount of detail describing the deep and insightful intentions of the band when really this is just a simple viking metal album. The newer stuff from this band is definitely way better.

Hyperbore
December 12th 2008


856 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

There were some - I can't say there were 'loads.' The vast majority of black metal at the time was still focused on being an antithesis to positivity, which meant, Satan.



The deep and insightful intentions are there Listen more; the extreme detail is not something I invented. It is not an album that makes its vision known through casual listening. The newer stuff is more likeable, but that doesn't make it better. I'd compare the music on this release to Ildjarn, not in its sound or construction, but in the reaction people have to it. They find it simple until they devote a lot of time and attention to it.



DoctorNurse, I'll do some editing tomorrow. Thanks again.This Message Edited On 12.12.08

Willie
Moderator
December 12th 2008


17623 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Nice review, I'll pos. As for this band, I've never liked an entire album by them before their latest one (but I've never heard this or Frost yet).This Message Edited On 12.12.08

Hawks
December 12th 2008


69286 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I definitely recommend getting Frost before this Willie. This is nowhere near as good as that album.

Wizard
December 13th 2008


20209 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This album is ok, but cant compare to albums like Frost and Vertebrae.




Album sucks.




Don't tell me this guys.......I just ordered this .



Pretty good review. A few awkward sentences and a few too many comma's need to be fixed.







Slaytan
December 13th 2008


1185 Comments


I haven't heard this, and I doubt I'll be looking into it. Frost and Vertebrae should be enough to hold me over with Enslaved.

Hawks
December 13th 2008


69286 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Don't tell me this guys.......I just ordered this.


Well just be prepared to be disappointed Wizard.



Hyperbore
December 13th 2008


856 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Edited. Thanks for the vote, WillieFisterbut, it's much appreciated



the_wizard, this is the band's most cohesive and intelligent work by a very, very, very long shot. Frost is great as well, but it's also (compared to this) fairly basic - there's not much in that album you won't find elsewhere in black metal. Everything after Frost is sequentially less visionary and more immediately enjoyable. This album is one of those that require one's full attention to gain a full understanding of it. It's not one you'll "get" right away, in fact, it may take several months. It's worthless as background music while playing videogames - as an actual work of art, it's the best thing the band has ever done.

Wizard
December 13th 2008


20209 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

the_wizard gave a vote too . You sound like you know what your talking about with older Enslaved so I will take your side on this issue. Eld[i] and [i]Frost are amazing so I will most likely take to this too.

Eakflanderyof
December 13th 2008


2496 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

the_wizard, this is the band's most cohesive and intelligent work by a very, very, very long shot. Frost is great as well, but it's also (compared to this) fairly basic - there's not much in that album you won't find elsewhere in black metal. Everything after Frost is sequentially less visionary and more immediately enjoyable. This album is one of those that require one's full attention to gain a full understanding of it. It's not one you'll "get" right away, in fact, it may take several months. It's worthless as background music while playing videogames - as an actual work of art, it's the best thing the band has ever done.




As much as I love real true black metal, I have to disagree completely. I think their older material is more basic and easier to get upon first listen assuming you listen to black metal.

Hyperbore
December 13th 2008


856 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

i won't be trying to change your mind on the matter, but can you explain *why* you think it's more basic?

Hyperbore
December 13th 2008


856 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

the_wizard, i hadn't noticed, but thanks as well :p

FR33L0RD
December 15th 2008


1474 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

superb album



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