ENSLAVED, for the acquainted listener, are needless of presentation; and yet, let us explain why we find them the most valuable addition to the 2013 Sofia Rock Festival (headlined by RAMMSTEIN). First of all, we have the exclusive chance of seeing them, which wouldn’t be possible solo, due to the unthinkable for our economy fees of Norwegian artists. We are glad to have ENSLAVED joining the leading player in the extreme metal market, Nuclear Blast, for a chance to significantly widen the band’s live appearances. The strategy of Ivar & Co to popularize the band works solidly, backed with an equally solid musical content. Is ENSLAVED truly unique? Doubtlessly; and yet, the answer to that question does not come immediately. ENSLAVED is a band complex in terms of influences and musical/lyrical content; inspired on the one hand by Floyd and Crimson, on the other by the likes of Autopsy, and by everything in between. Indeed, the Norwegians are happy to find their comfortable place within a wider extreme-progressive-rock frame, rather than to distinctly define a style while stepping upon these influences. This is, if we may speculate, misleading – or equally, leading to a cathartic point („Never to return / Merge with the unknown“…) through intricate patterns. Composer Ivar does need the wider frame in order to fit in – musically, and if he pardons the pun, organically (which is one and the same in mythological terms). His ingenious riff and harmony find their exaltation in Grutle’s electrically-charged vocals; around these pillars, revolves the rest of the band’s equally rich musical support. The result is something we have witnessed, hinted at, in 70s heavier prog-bands; something which escalates within Enslaved. Already an oxymoron, which this band is – at the same time a proof that extremes can coincide within an entity, and thus defining extreme metal itself. The arguments of „opposing“ sides – prog-fans and „black metal“ supporters, and namely that ENSLAVED should drop either the harsh vocals or the progressive frame, become ignorable. The band is unique with the fact that it enthralls the listener, inevitably and immediately, into a musical universe of their own: a universe specific yet broad, intense yet as free as possible. Their lyrics are perhaps not that intriguing to us in this latitude, given their local-mythology charge; still we fall partial to the all-pervasive and organic grasp of these Norse vikings. ENSLAVED is a journey, but most of all it’s an immersion. It’s a wave. And a pure probe rock’n’roll. Be witness, July 26th, 18.45.
Recommended albums: Isa, Ruun, RIITIIR.
Text and photo by Diana Chavdarova