Alcatraz Line up: 2017, 2022
Black/Viking metal heroes Enslaved have been at the forefront of the genre for over twenty years now. Whereas their early efforts are limited to lightning-fast black metal, they have long since metamorphosed into extreme metal virtuosos. Progressive song structures, a vintage Hammond organ and Pink Floyd-inspired guitar work go hand in hand with aggressive sections that sting every bit as hard as their early work. The release of ‘Monumension’ (2001) is a watershed moment for Enslaved. The band around Ivar Bjørnson and Grutle Kjellson starts to integrate more progressive and experimental aspects and even jazz into their output, naming Pink Floyd, Genesis and Rush as some of their influences. The vintage keyboards of Herbrand Larsen (since replaced by Håkon Vinje) add a new dimension to the overall sound and his clean vocals perfectly offset the impressive screams of frontman Kjellson. 2017’s ‘E’ is the first album to feature new singer and keyboardist Vinje. While not as innovative or brutal as earlier records the album has its fair share of experimental moments. It’s ethereal, groovy and psychedelic, with a memorable contribution by jazz saxophonist Kjetil Møster on the excellent album closer ‘Hiindsiight’. Their most recent outing ‘Utgard’ (2020) is Enslaved at its best in terms of artistry, production and focus. If ‘E’ was their most accessible work to date, ‘Utgard’ deepens that process without abandoning their beginnings, turning new acolytes on to the band while keeping their older fan base utterly satisfied.