Enslaved – Mardraum (Beyond the Within)
This here is another one of those Abyss Studios productions, just like “Heaven Shall Burn” by Marduk was. Stylistically, this is a bit different, but the production is mostly the same – incisive guitars, clear drums, lots of treble, overall clarity. It’s a good production style if you’re not looking for lo-fi sounds.
But Mardraum is basically where Enslaved began “softening” their sound. Technically, they had a lot of ambient/folk flavored bits on previous albums, even the rather violent Blodhemn, but here they took a turn for ’70s rock and psychedelia that shows up somewhat more prominently on their next few albums. Still, this is closer to Blodhemn than it is to Below the Lights.
This has a different sense of melody than previous efforts – it’s still mostly melodic while occasionally wandering into the more dissonant death metal territories, but by listening to the first few minutes of “Større Enn Tid – Tyngre Enn Natt”, I get the sense that the band is attempting to portray nigh-on-unresolvable tension, the way it shifts between Pink Floyd-esque melodic sections and fast metallic ones.
Other songs show the band attempting other things, such as their first use of English lyrics on “Entrance-Escape”, a greater amount of clean singing (Entrance Escape has no distorted vocals), and some rather abrupt transitions – nothing seems to be thrown in for no apparent reason, but still.
Amongst metalheads, this one seems underknown and highly appreciated at the same time. Couldn’t say why – probably because it’s between the overtly black metal stuff in the past (Vikingligr Veldi, Eld, etc) and the more ’70s prog influenced stuff (Pretty much everything after this), and that it isn’t exactly common to find fans of both.