Album Review: Enslaved – Heimdal

Enslaved Reveal Details of New Album

Album Review: Enslaved - Heimdal
Reviewed by Richard Oliver

Enslaved are a band that have always been marching forward yet have always had a nod back to their past never forgetting the origins of the band. The Norwegian band have been at the forefront of black metal, viking metal and progressive metal for over thirty years always sounding fresh and exciting and that is still very much the case with their sixteenth album 'Heimdal'.

The title 'Heimdal' and the theme of the album harks back to the bands early days and their 1994 debut album 'Vikingligr Veldi' for on that album was a song titled ‘Heimdallr’ which was one of the first the band ever wrote and was their entry point into the lyrical world of Norse mythology which the band have explored ever since. 'Heimdal' is the gatekeeper between the nine Norse realms and a source of constant speculation as scholars continue to offer new interpretations of his origins and his purpose. This lyrical theme permeates through the seven songs which make up the album which also sees the band on a musical journey again exploring various different sounds and styles whilst still throwing back to their black metal roots. The album opens in dramatic style with the sound of waves and a horn blowing which grows ever louder with each blast before dropping into the epic opener ‘Behind The Mirror’ which sees the band delving into dark and atmospheric sounds with that deft proggy touch that has served them well over the last few releases

Album Review: Enslaved - Heimdal

There is a strong psychedelic influence on 'Heimdal' which can especially be heard on songs such as ‘Congelia’ with the band clearly incorporating their love of the music of the 60’s and 70’s. These classic rock influences can continue to be heard in ‘Forest Dweller’ which is the stand out song of the album managing to be furious, atmospheric and soothing in equal measure and boasting a sublime Hammond organ solo in the middle. ‘Kingdom’ and ‘The Eternal Sea’ showcase the clean vocals of keyboard player Håkon Vinje whose soothing vocals are the perfect counterpart to the furious black metal rasp of frontman Grutle Kjellson. ‘Caravans To The Outer Worlds’ appears here again after being released as an E.P. in 2021 but the blackened psych prog of the track fits in excellently with the rest of the material on the album. Enslaved bring their prog weirdness to its limits in the closing title track which starts off with a doomy slow burn riff which builds and builds before the song switches halfway through going deep down the prog rabbit hole.

Enslaved continues to enthral and excite with 'Heimdal' and it is another fantastic entry in their discography. Sixteen albums in and you would expect them to start playing it safe with their sound but “Heimdal” shows that they are far from falling short of ideas as it is one of the most layered, complex and interesting sounding albums the band have done to date. It is very multi-layered and it is an album that peels away its layers with every consecutive listen. Enslaved continue to prove themselves to be one of the essential bands in progressive metal today.

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