- Brand: Enslaved
- Product Code: enslaved–utgard
Regular Edition in Black vinyl housed in a gatefold sleeve
Enslaved can do no wrong in the eyes of its diehard fans. After years of releases and reviews, most of the band’s material sits comfortably in 80-90% ratings on Metal Archives. I was, at one point, one of these fans. That was until 2004’s Isa. Where had my Frosty bois gone? I could do Monumension and Below the Lights, but what is this? It wasn’t until the follow-up, Ruun, I understood where Enslaved was going. I loved Ruun and even found that I loved Isa too. Sometimes a band makes such a drastic change in style that you’re floored by it. Many times upset by it. But Enslaved made it work. Well, at least for a couple more albums. I liked most of RIITIIR, but nothing after. And when E and its saxophone-sucking closer arrived five years later, I had pretty much given up on the band. So, you can imagine the dread I felt when I got the promo for Utgard. Let me be clear about something. The greatest criticism I have against Enslaved is not that they reinvented themselves with a style that is so unique that you could call it ‘N Slaved-core. Nor is it that they abandoned that old, Norwegian black metal sound. I wouldn’t go there. Because if you love one era of Enslaved or love another, it’s all unmistakably Enslaved. No one sounds like them. And that Grutle shriek stands out to this day, while newbies become Abbath, Corvus, and Nocturno Culto wannabes. My greatest criticism is that they haven’t written a great album since 2010’s Axioma Ethica Odini. Again, if you have Enslaved‘s Viking blood injected into your veins, you’re not gonna agree with me. But, from beginning to end, that was the last album of theirs I could listen to as a whole. But Enslaved hasn’t seen those days in a long time. And that hasn’t changed with Utgard.