March 2, 2018

Enslaved - Frost (1994)

Enslaved was the youngest group of the second-wave Norwegian nucleus: Ivar Bjornson was like 6 or 7 years old when Mayhem formed in 1984, so maybe you can credit a youthful imagination to the greatness in their early music. The band's central themes generally stray away from satan-inspired blackness to explore more mystical and legendary adventures. This shift in atmosphere influenced many albums to come in the late 90s, namely Emperor's classic Anthems To The Welkin At Dusk. Enslaved is apparently the next biggest name in viking metal after Bathory, but I'm not expert enough to elaborate much on this subgenre. As I understand, viking metal is a descriptor that deals more with the lyrical content and musical inspiration instead of a specific sound--much like how 'pimp rap' is to hip hop. While I more-or-less just assume the 'viking' part of the album, I would confidently label this folk metal. Despite traditional metal instrumentation, some of these riffs aren't too melodically far off from something like Fairport Convention. The musicianship is incredible and the booming Grieghallen drums of Trym Torson (later of Emperor and a part their aforementioned record) is my favorite element of the album. The longest piece, Svarte Vidder, is no doubt the best track and features 8 minutes of powerful and creative riffs. The synth sections (aided by some mouth harp) are imaginative and help me understand what it would be like as a lone traveler in 12th century Scandinavia. Frost is one of the great Norwegian black metal albums and while I doubt anyone would dispute this, I rarely see it mentioned among the other big names. An under-appreciated album that's well worth your time.