Home > Music > Enslaved – Eld (1997)

Enslaved – Eld (1997)

Eld may be Enslaved’s most stereotypically “Viking Metal” sounding album – their debut is very repetitive and hypnotic, Frost is violent, Blodhemn is even more so, and Mardraum represents a transition to psychedelic rock/metal. This could be described as a middle ground, in fact; listeners can hear elements that Enslaved had been using to construct their songs for years, and would continue to do for some time in a variety of formats.

This is also home to the band’s longest song. “793 – Slaget Om Lindisfarne” encapsulates everything early Enslaved was about in a concise 16 minutes; if that seems long, consider that it’s over before the latest episode of The Big Bang Theory, or whatever sitcom you’re worshiping this month. In fact, the only thing it doesn’t incorporate are harsh vocals (technically, there may be a gravelly scream in the middle, but it blends in); large portions of the song are instrumental, and when vocals come in, they’re sung. Like something off Vikingligr Veldi, this is a very ambient and intentionally repetitive song, but the song goes through more distinct sections and riffs, reducing the need for small variations within each riff. This song, in fact, reveals Enslaved’s growing ability to create dynamics through songwriting; surprisingly it remains mostly isolate through this, as your average song by Enslaved, at least up until Below the Lights, relies heavily on ambiance, sound, atmosphere; everything, even variety is subordinated to this overarching need.

In fact, the shorter songs here are closer to typical for Enslaved; being simpler, more concise, etc. They’re often quite intense in a blackened thrash sort of way, with melodic tremelo riffing and midpaced blastbeats (faster than Darkthrone, slower than this very band on Blodhemn), with some creative, oddly shaped riffs and traditions. Occasionally, a sung melody or keyboard passage shows up, and the music slows down. If this seems middle of the road, it’s probably because it is. Eld never really does anything wrong, and definitely has its moments, and furthermore I am attuned to the half-epic, half-violent nature of the album. Still, because it doesn’t focus on one of those aspects like the immediately surrounding albums, it seems undernoticed and underrated in comparison to the rest of the band’s discography (even Mardraum), and is probably less accessible than anything they’ve written outside their full length debut. All I can say is that you should give this record a spin – you might find a lot to like about it.

Incidentally, at the end of the final, eponymous track, the vocalist (Grutle Kjellson) makes a noise that suggests he’s filling up with air, like a balloon, and slowly but surely floating into the sky. That, I do not understand, and it’s a puzzling end to any album.

Highlight tracks: “793 (Slaget Om Lindisfarne)”, “Alfablot”, “For Lenge Siden”, “Eld”

P.S: I began writing this capsule review almost two months ago, but then WordPress ate my draft. Then, at some point, it regurgitated it, I finished writing, and now you are blessed with my opinions on Enslaved’s 3rd album. Isn’t life swell?

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