Tag Archives: progressive black metal

“Vertabrae” by Enslaved

Artist: Enslaved
Title: Vertabrae”
Label: Nuclear Blast Records
Release Date: 10/28/2008
Genre: Viking/Progressive Metal
Rating: 4.5/5

The moment you start spinning “Vertabrae”, the newest release by Norway’s legendary Enslaved, you will be hit by waves of Atmosphere that are stronger than gale force winds and stand to knock you off of your feet in short order. It sounds a little dramatic but this was the exact feeling that hit me when I began playing this disc for while intrinsically dark in overall texture the band was really touching upon their progressive side a whole lot more than they ever dared to before. It begins with “Clouds” and there are a number of Pink Floyd feels and valleys being explored as soon as the album begins. From the onset we find dreamy and airy vocals from keyboardist Larsen that work in tandem to the Pagan shrieks of Kjellson, and in the end this becomes a duality of light and darkness all during the same tracks which makes it an almost intoxicating listening experience. The albums title track comes off as something that one would typically find in the Opeth set list and I am impressed to find more bands of note daring to explore and push aside the boundaries so to better deliver their true musical expressions. Lyrically this is very strong and works within the subject matter of their past releases by dealing with topics relating to Viking culture and its philosophy. My first recommendation on how to play this would be to let it start and then complete without jumping around because I felt that doing so will cheat you out of the experience meant to be received with this one. Of course there are heavy and crushing riffs to be found as well and this is not only to be viewed as “Head Metal” and we find this during “New Dawn” which is a number that delivers thundering double kick drums and blast beat drumming that push you to the ground while the vocals and guitars twist you around and offer up some roller coasting in terms of the various tempo changes. It’s impressive to say the least and an album that I think those who have been following the band over the last few years will be proud of. The album only holds eight tracks but you shall not feel cheated at all since the larger portion of them surpasses the six minute mark with two coming close to eight minutes. Oddly enough, despite the length of the track the song seems to move fast and not bore you. This is always a good thing.
Continue reading “Vertabrae” by Enslaved

“Origin” by Borknagar

Artist: Borknagar
Title: “Origin”
Label: Century Media Records
Release Date: 10/31/2006
Genre: Acoustic/Folk
Rating: 4/5

The rising popularity of Folk and Celtic music and its continual expression in a number of the world’s Metal bands of today had this release make perfect sense for the members of Borknagar. As many already know, Borknagar are literally the masters of Progressive Black Metal and prove them as such on almost every outing that they undertake. Their main songwriter (Oystein G. Brun) is the type of writer who always composes the bands music in the acoustic sense. This made the decision to release an album that was not only acoustic and classically based, but itself an acoustic album a promising idea. The thinking was that it would allow fans of the band to see just how musical they are and how deep the melody goes. Isn’t it interesting to find the level of Progressive Black Metal they do coming from such vibrant acoustic compositions. We saw Opeth go this route on “Damnation”, and Green Carnation with “The Acoustic Verses”; yet this album is far more traditional and not as experimental as those others. The comparison is to cite that this can and often does work very well. The only downside is that the album is very short and runs a mere 35 minutes and will leave the listener with a sense of wanting more. At least the replay is but a click of the remote away. The main band performs on the following instruments Oystein G. Brun (acoustic, classic and high string guitars), Lars A. Nedland (piano, keyboards, organs and backing vocals), Vintersorg (vocals, choirs, and chants), Tyr (bass) and Asgeir Mickelson (drums). It was very interesting to hear Vintersorg singing in complete melody for a change for there are no growls to be found anywhere on this release. Several guest musicians that truly bring this to a brighter life accompany Borknagar. Among their number is Steiner Ofsdal (woodwinds), Sareeta (violin) and Thomas Nilsson (cello).
Continue reading “Origin” by Borknagar

“Ruun” by Enslaved

Artist: Enslaved
Title: “Ruun”
Label: Candlelight Records
Release Date: 5/2/2006
Genre: Progressive Black Metal
Rating: 4.5/5

The band Enslaved were always ahead of the game in terms of Viking/Black Metal but they have truly raised the bar of their sound on “Ruun”, an album that will long be referred to as not only one of the bands best releases but also as a masterpiece of modern Metal. The album succeeds on a number of levels because it is perhaps the most Progressive we have ever found Enslaved performing since their inception over 15 years ago. With their tenth recording the band uses a wide assortment of palettes of music to paint with bringing their listener to fascinating new worlds. Many of the feels reminded me of some of Opeths direction but perhaps it was Mellotron usage in the opening track “Entroper”. It’s a track that will instantly call new listeners to their sound because it has the epic quality that the band is known for but yet takes many Progressive queues and allows the band to reach a wider audience. The song is also melodically sung by keyboardist Herbrand Larsen and he does a fine job of this type of vocal across the album. I find this aspect a perfect companion to the Black Metal growls of Grutle Kjellson as together the music is able to achieve a higher level of experimentation by using the two in unison. The mix of vocals has become an almost common practice and bands that are doing this to positive effect (most specifically the longer lasting one) continue to make the genre more interesting and accessible. Selling records and making more folks enjoy your music is not too much selling out as it is a career necessity. When bands like Enslaved do it, it almost proves a level of “this is OK to do” in the younger Black or Death Metal groups. The album is also a perfect follow up to their last album, the also Progressive laced “Isa”. Tracks like “Ruun” and “Heir To The Cosmic Seed” were among my favorites and show the group as fans of Psychedelic music as well as they mix flavors heard in Pink Floyd music to great effect.
Continue reading “Ruun” by Enslaved