Enslaved Web Sleeve

Album Review: Enslaved – Utgard

Legendary Norwegian black metal masters Enslaved prove they still don’t do bad on glorious 15th album, Utgard

The magnificent chants that open Enslaveds 15th album Utgard clearly mark the beginning of an all-encompassing journey. At this stage in their career, you’d expect nothing less from the Norwegians, as they continue to enchant and intrigue with each new release. And while progressive black metal is certainly having a moment, whether through the swirling psychedelics of Oranssi Pazuzu or the jazzy theatricality of Imperial Triumphant, Enslaved are the elder statesmen of the sub-genre, and with their ability to encompass a maelstrom of sounds while keeping songs super-tight, they are also the masters.

Utgard has a suitably far-out concept, racking up prog points while also utlising the vast terrain of Enslaved’s roots for inspiration. On Utgard, Enslaved take the listener through a frightening landscape in Norse mythology where the gods have no control and chaos reigns. Embarking on this expedition is a metaphor for journeying through your own unconscious, and facing darkness to find rebirth. This idea permeates the album as the mood veers from ominous to uplifting, and Enslaved embrace a multitude of sounds throughout – the album centrepiece Utgardr has Hawkwind-style spaciness meeting Nordic poetry, the synth-laden grooves of Urjotun could fill any dancefloor (remember those?), while the shimmering melodies of album closer Distant Seasons are simply gorgeous. Throughout the album, from the glorious swells of Homebound to the rollicking Storms Of Utgard, Enslaved effortlessly segue from arena-worthy, rock’n’roll riffs into kaleidoscopic, progressive wig-outs, with that black metal core still fired up, all while staying splendidly streamlined. Getting ever-more impressive as they near their 30th anniversary, Enslaved have created another masterpiece.

Verdict: 4/5

For Fans Of: Winterfylleth, Oranssi Pazuzu, Bathory

Utgard is released on October 2 via Nuclear Blast.

READ THIS: How Paganism is influencing a new breed of heavy artist

Posted on September 30th 2020, 12:18p.m.
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