Enslaved
Eld


3.0
good

Review

by jk2two USER (15 Reviews)
January 17th, 2010 | 41 replies


Release Date: 1997 | Tracklist

Review Summary: An awkard transition that cannot satisfy fans of their earlier work, or fans of their newer stuff.

Norwegian heroes Enslaved submitted this third full length album in 1997, long after the ashes of the churches were cold and Euronymous was long dead. Many of the founding Norwegian bands began to find substantial commercial success in their craft - the criminal activity was no longer necessary. All that was left to do was to expand and progress the genre. Throughout their formative years, Enslaved always leaned towards the more progressive side of black metal, and their junior effort Eld is no exception. This third outing sees the band exploring more familiar territory with long epic numbers and vast instrumental passages.

Though Eld covers much of the same Viking focused lyrical themes as Enslaved's previous efforts, the overall tone of the album is a bit lighter. This might be due in part to the mix which I will get to, but there is a more hook-oriented focus in the song writing which adds to this as well. There are some pure black metal moments, but they are more sparse and spread out through the album. There might have been an attempt to appeal to a larger audience as the commercial value of black metal was now a very real and motivating factor for a lot of bands.

Kjellson covers the vocal duties once again and he is definitely one of the highlights of the album. His black metal voice is still raw and savage, while his singing voice is satisfyingly low and ambient in the mix. Album standout 793 is a long and transitional track featuring a plodding beat and Kjellson's deep, dark singing voice. The song's over 16 minute running time is never an issue and it is easily the album's finest moment.

After the brilliance of 793 comes another 6 tracks that never quite meet the level of the opener. There are moments when the album delivers, like the dark opening of For Lenge Siden, but the tracks are not nearly as cohesive as they were on Frost or Vikingligr Veldi. As is the tendency with a great deal of progressive music, many of the tracks on Eld sound like clumps of great ideas, one after another, without any real flow.

Truth be told, this album is chock-full of riffs, but many of them seem rather underdeveloped and uninspired, particularly when one is aware of what this band is truly capable of (in other words, Frost). It is a sad state of affairs when such a talented band sounds like they are phoning it in after a 3 year break between albums. The result is Eld stands as an awkward bridge between early Enslaved and the more progressive, new Enslaved.

One of the other main issues with Eld, which will undoubtedly divide fans into two camps, is the production - more specifically, the drum mix. The tight piccolo snare breaks through the mix with an awkward room ambience. Though it is thankfully diminished during blast-beat sections, it is most distracting during the hard steady grooves that are scattered throughout. Helgeson's performance on Eld is more than competent, it is just a pity he was given such an awkward drum mix. The sound of the drum kit as a whole is more akin to the indie rock garage bands of the 90's, and it has a very jarring effect on the overall presentation of the album. The rest of the instruments are mixed well (particularly the keyboard which takes a nice back seat for most of the album), but the drums will forever distract from them.

Enslaved would go on to explore much more risky and genre-bending territory after this, but Eld will remain the transitional album between that and their Norwegian roots. Three years after the excellent Frost, the Vikings were unable to deliver on the same level. Eld instead plays as a failed experiment - an attempt to grow in directions perhaps the band was unsure of, or not ready for. That being said, this album is still miles above the steaming pile of black metal garbage that was coming out at this time, and since.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
TheSpirit
Contributing Reviewer
January 17th 2010


25081 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

WTF, i was totally gonna review this. Ahh you stole it, but i guess it's okay because it's an excellent (even though i totally disagree with your rating) review. This album is so fucking good i can't stand it.

Digging: Secret Band - LP2

TheSpirit
Contributing Reviewer
January 17th 2010


25081 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Although i don't know why you bolded Enslaved.

BallsToTheWall
January 17th 2010


49562 Comments


Yeah, this album is alright. Good review with a rating I agree with.

Digging: The Appleseed Cast - Mare Vitalis

Yazz_Flute
January 17th 2010


18939 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I started a review for this almost 3 years ago but never finished it haha.

jk2two
January 17th 2010


112 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

You're right about the bolding - I thought it would look good, but it didn't.

Crysis
Emeritus
January 18th 2010


17372 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Agree with the rating.

TheHamburgerman
January 18th 2010


1460 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Nice review, somehow I would love to agree with the rating... But I just keep listening to the last 6 songs. They're so catchy.

plutosatanclubhouse
January 18th 2010


142 Comments


Totally agreed with the review. I really love 793 but after that the album just goes nowhere at all.

It's decent to play as background music to a game like Diablo 2 though.

Wizard
January 19th 2010


20209 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

The song's over 16 minute running time is never an issue and it is easily the album's finest moment.



Couldn't agree more.



About time someone reviewed this. I was thinking about it for a while and I guess I forgot hahaha. Great review.

destroyer1326
June 21st 2010


11 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

enslaved are a good band thats all i have to say!

Yazz_Flute
July 20th 2010


18939 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I have to say this is probably one of my favorite Enslaved albums at the moment. Besides Kvasir's Blod and possibly the title track, the material is incredibly solid.I'd take this over any of their first four albums.

Hawks
October 2nd 2010


69255 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Enslaved is one of the most consistently awesome bands around. 793 is epic as balls.

Digging: Hecate Enthroned - Embrace Of The Godless Aeon

NeroCorleone80
December 9th 2010


34562 Comments


I think this is better than Frost, just because of 793

Hawks
December 9th 2010


69255 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Eh I wouldn't say it's better than Frost. Close call though.

Yazz_Flute
December 9th 2010


18939 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Frost is overrated.

Zyhaal
December 26th 2010


194 Comments


793 and the title track definitely are the highlights. Good and extremely atmospheric album, but far from their best.

linguist2011
Contributing Reviewer
October 9th 2011


2594 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

The Opening track is marvellous,but the other tracks just don't follow on with the same quality. Not the best enslaved album by far, but one that is definitely significant in their career journey.

Digging: Numenorean - Adore

Yazz_Flute
October 6th 2012


18939 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

793 is so fucking epic.

foxblood
April 16th 2013


9491 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

this is p good but still a huge step down from frost

Pestiferous
April 16th 2013


1375 Comments


i think it's time for me to go on an enslaved kick



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