Enslaved
Utgard


4.0
excellent

Review

by Dewinged CONTRIBUTOR (94 Reviews)
October 14th, 2020 | 128 replies


Release Date: 10/02/2020 | Tracklist

Review Summary: I'm typing a storm.

For a southerner like myself, listening to Enslaved feels like being slapped by a gale of Nordic snow, their riffs an avalanche, and Grutle Kjellson’s growls, the voice of a vengeful spirit warning me of my trespassing into the northern realm. With fifteen albums on their back, the Norwegian squad led by Kjellson and Ivar Bjørnson have no intention of slowing down their output, and far from becoming a stagnant version of their former selves, Enslaved is back in 2020 with yet another fantastic blend of all things metal.

Utgard (as in Útgarðar and meaning literally “out-yards”) takes the band through a journey around the outer world connected to Yggdrasil, “the home of external cosmic forces” and “home of the Jotun”, which is what my very limited knowledge and research of Norse mythology allows me to elucidate. Enslaved couldn’t have found a more proper setting for unleashing an even more refined version of their space-prog-rock-meets-black-metal. When “Fires in the Dark” opens the album with prime evil chants, the track slowly unfolds into the band’s niche of terrifying gutturals, crushing guitars and a pummeling rhythm section while slowly giving way to Kjellson’s bewitching clean vocals and a whole array of percussion and acoustic instrumentation. It only takes a few minutes to hear that Enslaved, ladies and gentlemen, are back in tip-top shape.

The Norwegians switch styles with so much ease that is almost laughable. In theory, with almost 30 years into their career, fifteen full length releases and as many members coming in and out of the project as to form a philharmonic orchestra, Enslaved should be a worn-out, uninspired version of the band that once transformed the Norwegian black metal scene in the 90s, but this is not the case. Release after release, the band from Bergen always manage to preserve the essence of their sound, infuse with a little bit of something else, and produce new material that feels as consistent with their discography as fresh and exciting for new and old fans alike.

It’s the case of a song like “Urjotun”, which starts with a sinister synth line and soon evolves into the band’s take on (what!?) kraut rock, with Kjellson singing on a quavering low register, showing how gracefully his voice has aged, like damn fine wine. In the background, the band faithfully takes the shape of the Enslaved of the last ten years like time had stopped for them. “Homebound” is probably one of the most accessible tracks of Utgard thanks to Bjørnson ‘s stellar riffs and a raging chorus courtesy of drummer Ivar Sandøy that lingers in the back of your head like an ice burn. “Flight of Thought and Memory” recalls that time the band broke out the mold of the genre with 2000’s Mardraum: Beyond the Within, chaining furious blast beats with thunderous vocals. “Distant Seasons”, a bone-chilling, heart-melting mid-tempo, closes Utgard with a dreamy feel that wouldn't feel out of place on a Motorpsycho record.

While it’s pointless to proclaim Enslaved’s latest release as their best, reason being the vast amount of content that conforms their catalogue and its extremely variated nature, it’s fair to say that Utgard functions as well as a good entry point to their music as to the next logic step after 2017’s E that fans of the band were probably expecting. Enslaved can’t do wrong at this point, and they have proved it once again.



Recent reviews by this author
Crippled Black Phoenix EllengaestEartheater Phoenix: Flames Are Dew Upon My Skin
Kairon IRSE! PolysomnHallas Conundrum
Two People Second BodyDream Wife So When You Gonna...
user ratings (151)
3.7
great


Comments:Add a Comment 
Dewinged
Contributing Reviewer
October 14th 2020


21930 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I'm probably the less apt reviewer in the entire sputdom to talk about Enslaved, but this needed a review. Badly.



Official video for "Jettegryta": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xkEXIpym5E0&ab_channel=NuclearBlastRecords



Official video for "Homebound": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=92ptxt1FQiU&ab_channel=NuclearBlastRecords





Hope I did it justice, the album's great.





Digging: Crippled Black Phoenix - Ellengaest

Gyromania
October 14th 2020


30775 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

is american horror story worth watching?

Dewinged
Contributing Reviewer
October 14th 2020


21930 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

How is that related to Enslaved, Gyro, what am I missing? lol



But to anwer your question, idk, I haven't watched it.

parksungjoon
October 14th 2020


22194 Comments


>It’s the case of a song like “Urjotun”, which starts with a sinister synth line and soon evolves into the band’s take on (what!?) kraut rock

damn gonna have to hear this

Digging: Have Mercy (MD) - Armageddon Descends

Dewinged
Contributing Reviewer
October 14th 2020


21930 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Wish they could have made that track longer and even more kraut but it's interesting anyway.

Dewinged
Contributing Reviewer
October 14th 2020


21930 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I hope kevbo sees this cause no one else will get that summary :/

JakeStallion
October 14th 2020


570 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

not super familiar with the band, but this is really good. been on repeat the past few week or 2 for me. definitely gonna have to check out their previous stuff because I'm hella into this. awesome review btw!

Digging: Havukruunu - Uinuos Symein Sota

parksungjoon
October 14th 2020


22194 Comments


if you like opeth def check out axioma ethica odini

if you like emperor and mid era bathory def check out vikingligr veldi and hordanes land

laterenima
October 14th 2020


232 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Storms of Utgard is #1 for me. The whole thing reminds me of a neater Death in the Eyes of Dawn. The gutturals are menacing in the groovy part before the outro.

Dewinged
Contributing Reviewer
October 14th 2020


21930 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great track, for me the opener and the mid-section of the album would be my highlights.



And thanks Jake!

porcupinetheater
October 14th 2020


4008 Comments


Damn Dewi, what a fucking machine. NOT UNLIKE Enslaved; form meets function, Baby.

Keep gradually losing touch with Enslaved, asking myself why I don't jam them more, jamming them again at increasingly distant intervals, loving the jam. Ask myself with renewed vigor why I don't jam them more. Rinse. Repeat.

TheNotrap
Contributing Reviewer
October 14th 2020


15130 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Dewinged is on fire, may the Norse gods help us all!

Digging: Undeath - Lesions of a Different Kind

Dewinged
Contributing Reviewer
October 14th 2020


21930 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

More or less my story with them, I have huge gaps in their discography, or albums I just heard once, loved them and never heard them again. A curse of the times I guess.

Beardog
October 14th 2020


3795 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Once again a proper Enslaved record. I like it, although I'm more a fan of their longer songs. Nice review!

porcupinetheater
October 14th 2020


4008 Comments


Yo Dearbog, what does a proper Enslaved record mean for you? Like if it often comes down to duration, last one had 3/4 of the record longer than anything off this, is this a return to form for ya?

Dewinged
Contributing Reviewer
October 14th 2020


21930 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Hi-jacking gearbod's question to say that prior to this I've only heard E, Mardraun and Axioma and the latter is my favorite. This could come as close as a second favorite.

Pikazilla
October 14th 2020


12828 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Album rules.



American horror story is fucking crap.

parksungjoon
October 14th 2020


22194 Comments


>prior to this I've only heard E, Mardraun and Axioma

thats such a weird selection lol

i guess its 2000, 2010 and the previous latest?

Dewinged
Contributing Reviewer
October 14th 2020


21930 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

You got that right, the ones aligned by the gods for me to check.

parksungjoon
October 14th 2020


22194 Comments


definitely could do with checking a few more then



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2019 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy