Enslaved – Utgard (Review)

Enslaved - UtgardEnslaved are a Norwegian black metal band and this is their fifteenth album.

A new Enslaved release is a thing to be celebrated, and Utgard is no different in this regard. The follow up to 2017’s EUtgard is actually quite different in many other regards, however.

Enslaved’s core magical brew is one of frosted blackness, of emotive progressive leanings, and of folk texture. These ingredients are intact on this record, but the recipe is different. On Utgard Enslaved look to the past, present, and future for their influences, and there’s more experimentation on these new songs than is normal for the band.

Enslaved also now have a new drummer, and he provides vocals too. This means that the band’s already impressive vocal range has been expanded further, and his voice adds a different dimension to the music.

Featuring some of the band’s shortest tracks in a while, the songs on Utgard are still packed with depth of content, despite this relative brevity. Filled with engaging melodies, impassioned vocal harmonies, raging icy aggression, and subtle introspective nuance, the album is an exemplar of progressive blackened potency.

It’s a varied and well-differentiated album. Each song has it’s own identity, and it sees the band explore a lot more textures and musical pastures than E did. In places Utgard is the most viciously scathing Enslaved have sounded in years. In other places it’s the most epic and grand; the most Viking in style. In others still it ventures into total prog rock territories, while in others an industrial/krautrock influence can be heard…It’s clear that the band have chosen to push themselves and experiment on Utgard more than some of their other releases, and the results are very gratifying indeed. A lot of bases are covered on this record, all with the talent and skill we’ve come to expect from the band.

Utgard is not the record I was expecting from Enslaved. Instead, it’s a far better one, and it feels like an important new chapter of the band’s storied history has been started.

Long may they prosper. Enslaved have produced another landmark album.

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