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Enslaved - Vikinglr Veldi
Review: This album functions as an organism to fertilize and evolve its essential concepts within a space of imaginativity coloring with naturalistic design a world of ancient and current vitality in the functionality of life as an exchange of nothingness and infinity expressed through the potential of tones toward an open resolution (new phrase or recyclic motion) or a finite dissonance which expresses in its structural conclusion a resonance to earlier continuous themes within the motif of each song. Epic in a logical extension to later Bathory and early modern Black Metal, these lengthy pieces showcase this band at their most inventive and conceptually expansive as demonstrated by the unique character in each of these works.
Songs that somehow hide aggressively precise and dominant rhythm including lengthy blasts and driving explosive confrontational stanchions of bullet-precise structural percussion building boundaries and evolving their destruction, despite aggression meld into sonorous fluidity. Guitar employs a range of basic power chording variants to sweep harmonization into the expansion of phrase in shape and impulse rhythm for intensity building through the liquid re-creation of themes and atmospheres in the swirling moods emerging from the chaotic but surprisingly gentle merging of ideas. Atmosphere forged in technique and texture absorbs melody and regenerates it in multiple forms, rendering a motif which over time grows through rebirth and decay within, suggesting the autumnal thoughts of an ancient forest or the last days of a retired and renowned warrior.
As such its appeal is lost on many; there is no dominant mood, but a range of moods variantly saturated with sadness, ambition, youth, despair and a hopeful sense of structuralist pragmatism in service to an ideal based in belief in life and its darkness and light. No album more "beyond good and evil" has been so subtly stated however, and the progressive inspiration to gestate concept and project reason in the form of fantastic voyages into the subconscious desire for existence of all free spirits, while brilliantly executed and reasonable in musicianship, remains underappreciated for its contributions not to black metal but to metal as a whole in gesturing a compositional complexity which could in fairness be called symphonic.
Neoclassical and Norwegian folk influences are integrated entirely in the vision of melody as nihilistic and immanent through dynamic structural principles in tonally congruent phrasing within arrangements that are less rock than epic open Eurometal jam sessions with the precise structure and intelligence of a majestically esoteric lyric poem. Emotionally it is mature beyond the evident youth and hopefulness that full knowledge of an adult world could not crush, with themes developed with vision and depth for the sense of reflecting a worldview rather than an overdeveloped faculty for self-pity (for example) or other artistic dodges of a modern time. Its tolerance for multiple chiastic motif transitions indulges a sense of naturalism in ecosystems of melody building, combining, dying, being born.
Both metal in its purest sense, with raging riffs and raw power in the explosion of song across tonal and rhythmic space with rapacious hunger and warlike immediacy, and of a new sense of the music we know as the neoclassical expansion of black metal, this album defined for many the atmospheres of both the North and human ambition toward mental meritocracy and strength, reflecting through this dark and nihilistic yet ambitiously inspired work a hope for the self and nature through through intentional creation.