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Enslaved - Frost
Review: This album of war songs takes black metal nihilism to an austere world of minimal elements presented in a stillness of organic warmth, a coldness of the digital age forged in the rigidity of logic and position. Previous creators of ambient folk metal masterpieces, Enslaved use the presentation dynamics of folk music to break black metal into its simplest form of vector expression yet, a blasting counterpoint style based on melodic affinity to central lyric (as many folk songs do). Mostly their loudest voice are the three- and four-note riffs that through direction and melody take place in a piece like characters, rather than objects.
With the searing overblasted whisper of Grutle Kjellson chanting the unifying narrative through carefully measured phrases and Trym Torson laying down a clattering double-bass fronted sequence of drum patterns, from blast to churn, equally rooted in the preparations and mechanizations of warfare. The dominant speechmaker here however is the guitar, which through mercurial transformations becomes a walking riff accompaniment that drives a linear progression in different potential directions or a leading melody tracing the progression of the song's decryption like an addict finding veins. Using minimal chords and barely intrusive lead guitar the six-stringed section creates the rhythm which defines the counterpoint the drums explore, reflecting off the vocals to work out the tension of the song.
Sometimes these epics turn into bouncy Viking drinking songs, or celebratory musings of romance, but their overall intent is harmful and belligerent in the spirit of war as metaphor for life; a devouring voice, this music infiltrates at subtle levels to splay its visions of obscure ancient modes of thought before your barely programmed brain. Its appeal is similar to most folk music, the exploration of a very obvious theme in ways that subvert its instance as means to assert its essence. Whether that is your taste in black metal or not, "Frost" bears study as a musical document of a potent direction for future technical underground minimalism, especially in its expression of Viking traditionalism through melody adapted to the manic patternings of modern rhythm.