Label: Nuclear Blast
Genre: Blackened Progressive Metal
Release Date EU: March 3rd, 2023
Ivar Bjørnson | guitars
Grutle Kjellson | vocals
Arve ‘Ice Dale’ Isdal | guitar
Håkon Vinje | keyboards, clean vocals
Iver Sandøy | drums
Behind The Mirror
The Eternal Sea
Caravans To The Outer Worlds
Sinister metal from Scandinavia is booming these days. First Katatonia from Sweden released their new masterpiece, followed by Finland’s blackened death metal veterans Insomnium. What’s missing is an album from a Norwegian band and the gap will be closed by ‘Heimdal’, the newest strike from Enslaved.
The guys from Bergen, Norway present with ‘Heimdal’ their 16th studio album, and what is presented to the fans is a record that outstandingly unites three decades of Enslaved.
After the band turned to black metal in the early days, new aspects have joined the Enslaved sound since ‘Utgard’. The band has never forgotten its black metal roots but has developed its sound over the years. Besides a stronger inclusion of Nordic folk, Enslaved has also increasingly incorporated more complex elements, which make albums like ‘In Times’ and ‘E’ little masterpieces.
‘Heimdal’ also originates from Norse mythology, being the gatekeeper between the nine Norse realms. Conceptually, the album builds on this myth and deals with the relationship between Heimdal and Odin, who is potentially Heimdal’s father.
Old and young, this could also be understood as an overarching central theme. Enslaved have grown older as well, and in a way, their latest album connects 30 years of the band. On the one hand, there are the melodic, partly melancholic moments with clean vocals like in large parts of ‘The Eternal Sea’.
Also, the opener ‘Behind the Mirror’ builds on this aspect of the Enslaved sound. The first song on the tracklist is a massive masterpiece with many layers. Already the beginning impresses. It is the sound of a horn blown by Eilif Gundersen (Wardruna) which sends the first shiver down your spine. You immediately have the impression of being caught in northern myths before the rest of the song slowly unfolds. With this track, you leave the safe mainland and embark on a musical journey with many pleasant surprises, a trip that finds its continuation with ‘Congelia’. The second song on ‘Heimdal’ is special. With a repeating basic motif, the song rolls into the mind of the listener. ‘Congelia’ almost puts you in a state of trance; it is complex and yet of great appeal. ‘Forest Dweller’ impresses with its cinematic aura. Quiet and peaceful moments blend into frenzied outbursts, showing the full range of today’s Enslaved sound.
The album in its entirety is kept atmospheric and even the wild ‘Caravans to the Outer Worlds’, known from the previous EP, has such ambient moments. At the same time, it is a relentless blackened metal track that exposes the band’s roots.
With eight minutes of playing time, it is the title track that represents the final leg of this musical journey through the worlds of Norse mythology. Once again Enslaved establishes unique soundscapes that are oppressive, hopeful, and dark.
‘Heimdal’ has become the expected strong new Enslaved album. The band strongly underlines its important role in the world of heavy metal and one thing is for sure: ‘Heimdal’ should not be missing in any serious record collection.
Written by: Markus Wiedenmann