Enslaved Post “The River’s Mouth” Video; E out this Week

Posted in Bootleg Theater on October 9th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

enslaved

On Friday, Norway’s Enslaved release their 14th long-player, E (review here), and if that doesn’t sound like an event to you worth marking, you’re going to want to take the five minutes out of your busy day to check out the band’s new video below. Directed as was the prior visualization for album opener “Storm Son” (posted here) that introduced the first public audio from the record by Josh Graham (A Storm of LightBattle of MiceRed SparowesIIVII, art for NeurosisSoundgarden, etc.), the video highlights a dark sense of ritual that fits well alongside the unabashed extremity of “The River’s Mouth” itself, which in directly following the progressively-minded 10-minute “Storm Son” in the tracklisting provides arguably the most fervent straight-ahead drive of the entire release.

I’d hardly call it stripped down, and I think if you listen/watch, you’ll agree with that assessment, but it has fewer twists than a lot of E, and so “The River’s Mouth” seems all the more direct in the delivery of its ideas, sonic as well as thematic. I just reviewed the album — link is in the first sentence if you missed it — and so I’ll spare you going through the whole thing again, but suffice it to say that one of the things that most makes me a fan of this band is their refusal to stop growing as artists. 14 records in, a lot of groups would have long since settled into a standard operating procedure, probably since their third or fourth full-length, and like very few others, that’s never been the case with Enslaved. Each time out, they have something new to say, some natural progression to undertake. It’s not always leaps and bounds, but it’s whatever shifts have manifested themselves naturally and find themselves with a role to play in their sound.

For this I consider Enslaved one of the most respectable bands on the planet, and E is in my eyes and ears a candidate for album of the year. There. I said it.

Note once more the contributions of new keyboardist/vocalist Håkon Vinje in “The River’s Mouth” alongside bassist Grutle Kjellson‘s verses. Dude makes himself right at home.

Much PR wire whatnot and tour dates follow the video.

Enjoy:

Enslaved, “The River’s Mouth” official video

ENSLAVED will finally unleash their new album E and prove that for a band with more than 25 years of history, they are still reinventing themselves. While the 10-minute-long opening track “Storm Son” gave fans a taster of what to expect from the new album, the single “The River’s Mouth” reveals a heavier and more harsh side of the 14th full-length release. Watch the official video for “The River’s Mouth”, which was once again created by Josh Graham (SOUNDGARDEN, NEUROSIS), here: https://youtu.be/Y8HX_vGPCz8

Songwriter and guitarist Ivar explains: “‘The River’s Mouth’ is a quite heavy track, drawing both on our rock roots and of course the foundation of everything awesome: mid-80s, mid-paced Bathory. It also includes some odd space-rock in the choruses and the end part – finally BATHORY and HAWKWIND met. I like the energy of this song a lot – both Cato and new-kid-on-the-chopping-block Håkon is doing such a great job with the psychedelic parts, the chorus and the ending. What a drive! The end sounds like travelling at insane speed through wormholes. The theme here is your relationship with the “future”, as we describe it: The sensation of time moving along is a construction of our brains – physics claims all time to already have been “rolled out”; try wrapping our brains around that one! So the future would be, speaking in tabloid; a piece of land we just haven’t arrived at yet. But it is already here. The song is about acting in tandem with your future self which already arrived at this “future island” – do not sit and wait, make sure you lay the ground for what is to happen in the future, now!”

E will be available in the following formats;

CD digipak
Red Cassette – limited to 300 worldwide
Red with Bone and Grey Splatter – limited to 900 worldwide
BUNDLE: T-shirt + CD Digi + 5 metal pin set + wooden coaster + 11×17 poster

CD Digipak:
1. Storm Son
2. The River’s Mouth
3. Sacred Horse
4. Axis Of The Worlds
5. Feathers Of Eolh
6. Hiindsiight
Bonus Tracks
7. Djupet
8. What Else Is There (Röyksopp Cover)

 

You can now pre-order the physical editions of the album here: http://nuclearblast.com/enslaved-e

Or get the digital version and stream new track “Storm Son” via this link: http://nblast.de/EnslavedDigital

ENSLAVED are set to embark on a headline tour through Europe, with special support acts hand-selected by the band. Be sure to catch them on one of the following dates:

10.11. D Hamburg – Logo (w/ IMPERIUM DEKADENZ & HERETOIR)
11.11. D Berlin – Nuke (w/ IMPERIUM DEKADENZ & HERETOIR)
12.11. D Cologne – Underground (w/ IMPERIUM DEKADENZ & HERETOIR)
13.11. NL Utrecht – Tivoli de Helling
15.11 UK Manchester – o2 Ritz (supporting OPETH)
16.11 UK Glasgow – Barrowlands (supporting OPETH)
17.11. UK Belfast – The Limelight 1 (supporting OPETH)
18.11. IRL Dublin – The Academy (supporting OPETH) *sold out*
19.11. UK Nottingham – Rock City (supporting OPETH)
21.11 UK Bristol – o2 Academy (supporting OPETH)
22.11 UK Birmingham – o2 Institute (supporting OPETH)
24.11. UK London – Islington Assembly Hall (w/ DARKHER & SVALBARD)
25.11. F Paris – Trabendo (w/ LOST IN KIEV & WOLVE)
26.11. B Vosselaar – Biebob
28.11. F Rezé – Barakason (w/ LOST IN KIEV & WOLVE)
29.11. F Lyon – CCO Villeurbanne (w/ LOST IN KIEV & WOLVE)
30.11. I Brescia – Circolo Colony
01.12. CH Pratteln – Z7
02.12. D Frankfurt – Das Bett (w/ ZATOKREV)
03.12. CZ Prague – Chelmnice (w/ ZATOKREV)
16.12. RU Moscow – Volta
17.12. RU St. Petersburg – Club Zal

Get tickets for the German shows here in our shop:
http://www.nuclearblast.de/de/produkte/tickets/indoor/ticket/enslaved-european-tour-2017.html

But before touring Europe, ENSLAVED play two special release shows in their home country Norway, where you can hear the new songs live for the very first time, meet the band at the merch stand and get two unique gig posters for free:

AISA & Time Out Agency presents:
w/ SIBIIR
12.10 N Oslo – Blå
13.10 N Bergen – Garage

26.10. S Stockholm – Close-Up Baten 21
1.-5.02. USA Miami – 70.000 Tons Of Metal

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Enslaved, E: Horses and Water

Posted in Reviews on October 4th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

enslaved e

First of all, no, Enslaved didn’t just title their 14th studio album, E, after the first letter of their name. The letter is a translation/reference to the rune ‘ehwaz’ that appears on the Truls Espedal cover art — looks more like an ‘M,’ but there it is — and among the meanings it holds are ‘partnership,’ ‘collaboration’ and ‘horse.’ It’s a one-letter title and a complete concept thematic on which to base the record. And as it happens, E is the most progressive outing the Bergen, Norway, extreme metallers have yet composed in their 26-year career, offering an expanse of sound and intensity that continues to push ahead of their last full-length, 2015’s In Times (review here), while clarifying production ideas, answering the varied intentions of their first live album, earlier-2017’s Roadburn Live (review here), and — in unquestionably the most major change the band has undergone in at least the last decade — introducing new keyboardist/vocalist Håkon Vinje to the lineup. Vinje worked with Enslaved founding guitarist Ivar Bjørnson and bassist/vocalist Grutle Kjellson (among many others) in the broad-reaching and historically-minded Skuggsjá project, and in joining Enslaved with Bjørnson, Kjellson, guitarist Arve “Ice Dale” Isdal and drummer Cato Bekkevold, he fills the role formerly held by Herbrand Larsen, whose contributions to the band’s overall sound in atmospherics and melodic vocals had only increased in scope since he made his debut on 2004’s landmark Isa LP.

That was six records ago, and in the 13 subsequent years, Enslaved only grew more dynamic as they progressed through 2006’s Ruun, 2008’s Vertebrae, 2010’s Axioma Ethica Odini (review here), 2012’s Riitiir (review here) and the aforementioned In Times, though the latter drew back toward a rawer production feel that E once again pulls outward into a larger sphere, and the soaring, soothing melodies of Vinje‘s vocals from opener “Storm Son” through cuts like “Axis of the Worlds” and closer “Hiindsiight” greatly enhance that impression. That Enslaved would introduce someone new in such a pivotal role feels like a bold enough step to make on a new album — one could hardly hold being tentative on some level against them, given how much Larsen brought to their sound — but they brazenly continue their apparently ceaseless and willful growth as songwriters and performers, and Vinje absolutely shines in the role into which he’s stepped, carrying the penultimate “Feathers of Eolh” (8:06) through ambience the thrust alike as Enslaved gallop with the fury that’s become one of their trademarks and step back to allow vocal harmonies to carry more subdued verses. It is a stunning late-album moment.

And by then, not the first time Enslaved have made the spine shiver. E launches with its longest track (immediate points) in the adventurous 10:54 “Storm Son,” which begins with captured outdoor sounds — birds, a shout, a Viking horn, a whinnying horse — leading to an unfolding of shimmering guitar and emergent push. It is a patient opening and when the verse kicks in, Vinje backs Kjellson‘s telltale rasp to set the stage for an exploration of proggy guitar-led turns and chug past the midpoint, heading toward a forward surge that carries them toward a repeated chorus that doubles as crescendo. The chant-style vocals in back of that hook are a foreshadow of what will become a major element throughout E, and one can’t help but wonder if perhaps Bjørnson is carrying a bit of influence from working with Wardruna‘s Einar Selvik (who also makes a guest appearance here) on Skuggsjá into these tracks, since even second cut “The River’s Mouth” — which is the shortest at 5:12 and an immediate contrast to “Storm Son” as it brings Kjellson to the fore in the verse and instead lets Vinje handle the chorus — seems to have some aspects therefrom at play.

Of course, creative arrangements of vocals, guitars, keys, and other instrumentation, are nothing new for Enslaved, but as “The River’s Mouth” swirls to its apex and the acoustic opening of “Sacred Horse” — a definitive moment of arrival, if brief — there’s a prevalence factor for resonance of mood that’s impossible to ignore. “Sacred Horse” (8:12) kicks into a vicious pummel with some of Bjørnson‘s roaring growls complementing Kjellson in the verse before a spacious-but-classy guitar lead takes hold before the next push, building a tension that continues as Vinje takes an organ solo after the three-minute mark and brings a melodic verse shortly before a break at 4:25 introduces the guitar part that will serve as the rhythmic bed for a thudding march that proves to be a standout moment of E as a whole, Bekkevold introducing the progression on toms before crashing cymbals to get officially underway. Guitars make a neighing sound to recall the ‘ehwaz’ theme, and choral vocals top the nodding groove in one of the record’s most singularly affecting moments. Amid laughter, they bring it back around to a few last measures of furious push to close out, and let “Axis of the Worlds” (7:49) take hold with more immediacy and a rocking feel at the start of side B.

enslaved

As their titles would seem to acknowledge, “Sacred Horse” and “Axis of the Worlds” feel very much like the heart of E in their presentation. I won’t take anything away from the impact of “Storm Son” or “Hiindsiight” at the start or the conclusion, and the direct contrast between “The River’s Mouth” as the second cut and “Feathers of Eolh” as the second-to-last seems nothing if not a purposeful display of range, but with the one-two of “Sacred Horse” and “Axis of the Worlds,” Enslaved provide some of their proggiest stretches and show how they’ve made these elements cohesive with the context of their own, ever-shifting approach. To wit, the organ lines of “Axis of the Worlds,” the chorus hook “Chase the serpent/Step on his tail” delivered in clean and echoing screams, the movement into returning chants amid a section that’s as much black metal as it is still somehow drawing from psychedelic and classic progressive rock, and the way the song seems to resolve itself in making its way back to the chorus at the end, the band clear enough in knowing what they want to do to not even in this moment lose sight of the underlying foundation of structure amid all the raging complexity. Especially after the thundering “Sacred Horse” — and, for that matter, before “Feathers of Eolh” — it gets to the core of what Enslaved accomplish with E, manifesting ideas of duality, complement, collaboration, whether that’s between band members or between the band itself and their craft or the instruments they’re playing.

Begun at a rhythmic rush, “Feathers of Eolh” is peppered with nuance of play and topped by piano sounds and guitar flourish for its proggy intro, kicking at about the minute mark into chant-backed drive and bringing in the aforementioned highlight performance from Vinje on vocals. His voice — clear, confident, powerful, layered — recalls some of what Larsen did melodically, but he brings his own edge to the changes in key as well and one expects he’ll only continue to make the role more his own as Enslaved move forward. “Feathers of Eolh” touches on what might be considered Viking post-rock (stick that in your genre search engine) in a brief interlude before springing forth again for the next verse and turns circa six minutes deep into a head-spinning reinterpretation of the intro that meets with further chanting, double-kick from Bekkevold and piano skronk that builds to a sudden finish, bringing the melodic first-minute intro of “Hiindsiight,” which wraps up E fluidly while still holding a surprise or two of its own.

Namely: saxophone. At 9:36, “Hiindsiight” is the second longest inclusion and thereby bookends E with “Storm Son,” but its structure is decidedly working on another wavelength. Cutting from the intro to about as close to a doomed roll as Enslaved have ever come, before the track is into its third minute, it has turned once again to lush melodies from the guitar and keys, trading back again before introducing what sounds like a tenor sax for an echoing solo prior to the halfway point from which Kjellson‘s vocals pick up like throaty searing and jazz instrumentation just go together all the time and there’s nothing at all unusual about it — it’s brilliantly pulled off — and with airy noodling guitar holding the melody beneath, “Hiindsiight” welcomes Vinje back to the arrangement briefly, but gurgles out at around 5:45 to let the guitar set the stage for the E‘s final stretch: a patiently delivered build of melody, chants, the sax, and a wash that’s unlike anything Enslaved have done before and yet so definitively theirs that it couldn’t possibly have come from anyone else.

It is a suitably glorious ending to an album that does nothing less than begin a new era for the band. I’m writing as a fan, but the bravery with which Enslaved take to the formidable task before them in E only underscores how special this group truly is, and in thinking of the stated them of collaboration, one would be remiss to ignore how pivotal the core founding duo of Bjørnson and Kjellson are, and how much their work together has changed over the years while still holding fast to the creative drive that has been so easy as a listener to take for granted all along. It’s only one letter, but E spreads itself across the consciousness with worldbuilding mastery, and is a work of true vision simply not to be missed. One of 2017’s best and then some. Recommended.

Enslaved, “Storm Son” official video

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Here are 40+ New Releases to Look for in the Next Three Weeks

Posted in Features on September 21st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Starting tomorrow, the next three weeks are absolutely stupid with new albums. Over-the-top, ridiculous. An immediately-go-broke amount of music. Nothing less than an onslaught. We’re under attack.

Far be it from me to tell you how to spend your money — also far be it from me not to — but there’s some really killer stuff in here. As to why it’s all landing now? Some of it of course has to do with the timing of when it was recorded, bands hitting the studio in Spring before heading out on the road over the summer, but Fall releases also line up nicely for tours in October and November, heading into the holiday season, when the music industry basically shuts down. This is the last chance for releases to come out in 2017 and be considered for best-of-year lists.

I doubt the likes of Chelsea Wolfe or Godspeed You! Black Emperor or even Kadavar would cop to that as a motivating factor, instead pointing to the timing of Fall touring and so on, but these things are rarely coincidental. You know how there aren’t any blockbusters in January but every movie feels like it’s trying to win an Oscar? Same kind of deal.

Nonetheless, 2017 is laying it on particularly thick these next couple weeks, and as you can see in the lists below, if you’ve got cash to spend, you can pretty much choose your rock and roll adventure. I’ll add to this as need be as well, so keep an eye for changes:

Sept. 22:

Alcest, Souveinirs d’un Autre Monde (10th Anniversary Edition)
Brant Bjork, Europe ’16
Chelsea Wolfe, Hiss Spunthe-flying-eyes-burning-of-the-season
Epitaph, Claws
Faces of the Bog, Ego Death
The Flying Eyes, Burning of the Season
Fvzz Popvli, Fvzz Dei
Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Luciferian Towers
Jarboe & Father Murphy, Jarboe & Father Murphy
Monarch, Never Forever
Nibiru, Qaal Babalon
Process of Guilt, Black Earth
Satyricon, Deep Calleth Upon Deep
Spelljammer, Inches from the Sun (Reissue)
Thonian Horde, Inconnu
Trash Titan, Welcome to the Banana Party
Ufomammut, 8
With the Dead, Love from With the Dead
Wolves in the Throne Room, Thrice Woven

Sept. 29:

monolord rust
Cities of Mars, Temporal Rifts
Deadsmoke, Mountain Legacy
A Devil’s Din, One Hallucination Under God
Disastroid, Missiles
Jim Healey, Just a Minute More (Sept. 26)
Idylls, The Barn
Kadavar, Rough Times
Lucifer’s Chalice, The Pact
Monolord, Rust
Outsideinside, Sniff a Hot Rock
Radio Moscow, New Beginnings
Scream of the Butterfly, Ignition
Tronald, Tronald (Sept. 30)
Unsane, Sterilize
Wucan, Reap the Storm

Oct. 6:

fireball-ministry-remember-the-storyElder Druid, Carmina Satanae
Fireball Ministry, Remember the Story
Frank Sabbath, Are You Waiting? (Oct. 2)
Himmellegeme, Myth of Earth
House of Broken Promises, Twisted EP
O.R.B., Naturality
Primitive Man, Caustic
Spirit Adrift, Curse of Conception
Spotlights, Seismic
Sumokem, The Guardian of Yosemite
Torso, Limbs
White Manna, Bleeding Eyes

Also:

Oct. 13: Enslaved, Firebreather, I Klatus, R.I.P., Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats (reissue), Weird Owl, etc.

Oct. 20: Iron Monkey, Spectral Haze, Bell Witch, The Spacelords, etc.

Something I forgot?

Invariably, right? If you know of something not seen above that should be, then by all means, please leave a comment letting me know. My only ask is that you keep it civil and not call me a fucking idiot or anything like that. I write these posts very early in the day, and if something has been neglected, I assure you it’s not on purpose and I’m happy to correct any and all oversights.

Thanks for reading and happy shopping. Support local record stores.

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Enslaved Post Video for “Storm Son” from New Album E

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 14th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

enslaved e storm son

A few crucial learnings from the new Enslaved track, and you know I love crucial learnings. The mainstay Norwegian progressive black metallers announced last week they’ll issue their new album, E, on Oct. 13 via Nuclear Blast, and in a week that was full of good news of releases to come, that might’ve been the most welcome date to mark on the calendar. In accordance with unveiling the cover runic origins, cover art, tracklisting and preorders for E, they said they’d be posting the first single “Storm Son” on Friday, and sure enough, they lived up to their word.

The 10-minute track makes a substantial sampling of what famed producer Jens Bogren is bringing to themix and master E in terms of clarity of vision and precise instrument separation — the track is immediately clean, very much in the style of Bogren‘s work on Enslaved‘s last four albums and countless others — and the video is by Josh Graham. You might recognize his crow-flying-in-profile motif from Neurosis‘ “Stones from the Sky” video, though there’s plenty going on here besides.

Before we get to the clip, let’s run through what we find out in it:

1. New dude can sing.

Granted, we may or may not be getting a guest appearance in the second half of “Storm Son” from Einar Selvik of Wardruna as well, and as the subsequent gallop takes off, bassist Grutle Kjellson‘s rasp is front and center (his own clean vocals are there too, somewhat buried in the layering), but early in the track, we get to hear new keyboardist Håkon Vinje‘s voice for the first time, and yeah, he pretty much nails it. What Vinje would bring to the band in filling the void left by Herbrand Larsen, who stepped away earlier in 2017 after a 13-year tenure, was to my mind the biggest question going into E, and if “Storm Son” is any indicator, things are gonna be alright. Larsen‘s progression as a vocalist over the last decade was a hallmark of Enslaved‘s stylistic progression, and obviously the band didn’t want to take any backward steps in losing him.

2. The style hasn’t changed that much.

A start-stop riff from guitarists Ivar Bjørnson and Arve Isdal carries the spirit of 2015’s In Times (review here) forward, and as one would expect, drummer/famed fisherman Cato Bekkevold is malleable to whatever changes the song might present. Much as it marks a new beginning for Enslaved in terms of their lineup, “Storm Son” doesn’t come across as a radical shift from where they were two years ago in terms of sound so much as the next step in their ongoing evolution. I’m not sure I’d count on one song to speak for E as a whole — yes, that’s me hedging my bets — but even with some notable post-rock flourish, I don’t feel blindsided by what the band is doing here.

3. Metallic patience abounds.

That said, one can hear a certain meditativeness in the repetitions early; Enslaved seeming to take that extra measure or two before switching to the next part of the track. That’s what I mean by “metallic patience.” It’s not like they’re jamming out — one would never really expect them to suddenly go improv — but while Enslaved resolve “Storm Son” with significant rhythmic charge, they also allow the textures of the track to flesh out a bit without growing fed up with waiting, losing their grip, and blasting out before it feels right to do so. There’s still a build in “Storm Son” along a linear course, but pay attention to how Enslaved handle it on their way through and I think you’ll notice as well that they hold their sense of poise even as that fury mounts, and that control is emblematic both of their experience and of the place that has brought them as players and songwriters.

Enjoy the video:

Enslaved, “Storm Son” official video

True avant-garde Norwegians ENSLAVED will release their epic new studio album E on October 13th, 2017 and with this 14th full-length record, the virtuoso herald a new chapter in the band’s history. To provide a first taste of what’s to come, the band now unveils their debut music video for the 10 minute long single “Storm Son” that blends mesmerizing prog with jarring extreme metal and a folky atmosphere. The music video was designed by Josh Graham, who previously worked with SOUNDGARDEN and NEUROSIS among others, and delivered a truly spectacular piece of animated art.

“‘Storm Son’ deals with the duality of man and nature, how important and basic that relationship is,” explains songwriter and guitarist Ivar. “Everything we do and create are imitations of nature; as we evolved from nature, that is how it must be – yet modern man thinks he and she is independent of nature, that we somehow are so superior that we do not have to take nature into consideration other than as a backdrop for shitty movies. Or festivals. Losing touch with nature is basically to lose touch with being human.”

You can now pre-order the physical editions of the album here: nuclearblast.com/enslaved-e

Or get the digital version and stream the new track “Storm Son” via this link: nblast.de/EnslavedDigital

The track list contains these majestic anthems:
01. Storm Son (10:54)
02. The River’s Mouth (5:12)
03. Sacred Horse (8:12)
04. Axis Of The Worlds (7:49)
05. Feathers Of Eolh (8:06)
06. Hiindsiight (9:32)
Bonus tracks available on the digipak:
07. Djupet (7:39)
08. What Else Is There? (Röyksopp cover) (4:44)

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Enslaved Announce Preorders for New Album E out Oct. 13

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 9th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

enslaved

If you’re like me and you’re wondering exactly what the new Enslaved album, E, is going to sound like, then you’re probably also like me and you know gosh darn well the answer isn’t likely to be provided in its entirety by the unveiling this Friday of the first single “Storm Son.” Nonetheless, when it comes to the long-running Bergen, Norway, progressive black metal innovators, I’ll take what I can get. Nuclear Blast has set an Oct. 13 release date for E and begun taking preorders for physical and digital editions, and that’s nifty, but at this point all we’ve got to go on is the art — looks like Enslaved art; Truls Espedal strikes again — and with the news that Herbrand Larsen has stepped away from the keys/clean vocal role, there’s the potential for a big sonic shift in E‘s tracks. Larsen was not a minor factor in the evolution of their sound.

Friday will begin to tell that tale; Oct. 13 will continue it. More when I hear, but for now, this from the PR wire:

enslaved e

ENSLAVED Announce Album Details And Release Date Of E

Launch Album Pre-Order Here: nuclearblast.com/enslaved-e

True avant-garde Norwegians ENSLAVED have announced the release of their epic new studio album for October 13th, 2017. This 14th full-length masterpiece sets the musical mind-twisters free from genre boundaries and offers a unprecedented mix of prog, extreme metal and shoegaze on 8 tracks with a play time of more than an hour. Elegantly titled E, the album was once again written by the unholy alliance of guitarist Ivar Bjørnson (music, lyrics) and singer/bassist Grutle Kjellson (lyrics) and marks the introduction of their new keyboard master and clean vocalist Håkon Vinje. Mixed and mastered at the Fascination Street Studios by the renowed Jens Bogren, E heralds a new era for ENSLAVED. Its cover artwork was once again hand-painted by the Norwegian artist Truls Espedal. As support for their brave sound journey, the quintet brought several guest musicians on board for the songs “Hiindsiigh”‘ and ‘”Feathers Of Eolh”, including WARDRUNA’s Einar Kvitrafn Selvik, flutist Daniel Mage and jazz saxophonist Kjetil Møster.

Mastermind Ivar explains about the title E:
“The concept of the album lies in both it’s meaning as a letter in the latin alphabet, and it’s runic reference: the rune “Ehwaz”, that is depicted as an “M” when drawn as rune (just to make sure it gets really confusing) – the runes are drawn to look like what they literally mean. Ehwaz (pronounced and used as what’s known as E, but drawn as an “M”) looks like and means ‘horse’. Which is closely linked to its esoteric meaning; which is ‘trust’ and ‘co-operation’. One of mankind’s oldest and deepest pairings/collaborations with any “outside” entities is with the horse. When they were first tamed and utilised there must have arisen the notion of some esoteric link between the two; now we could move swiftly, escape faster and even eat and drink from the animal (both horse milk and horse blood), and of course show off and brag before our enemies and peers with the most spectacular horses.

So, no, it is not about horses! It is about the symbioses that surrounds us; which are vital to our existence, to our development – on all scales: man and vessel (for instance horse, yes), a person and its significant other, child and parent, musician and instrument, chaos and order, subconscious and conscious, Oden and Sleipnir – wisdom and communication. There are many levels and variations of this concept on the album; the duality of man and nature, present and past personalities within one self, the conscious fear and the subconscious drive. And other symbiosis.”

The pre-order starts today and you can now get your hands on the physical editions of the album here: nuclearblast.com/enslaved-e

Or the digital version here: nblast.de/EnslavedDigital

The track list contains these majestic anthems:
01. Storm Son (10:54)
02. The River’s Mouth (5:12)
03. Sacred Horse (8:12)
04. Axis Of The Worlds (7:49)
05. Feathers Of Eolh (8:06)
06. Hiindsiight (9:32)
Bonus tracks available on the digipak:
07. Djupet (7:39)
08. What Else Is There? (Röyksopp cover) (4:44)

Stay tuned for the first single “Storm Son” to be unveiled this Friday!

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Enslaved, “Death in the Eyes of Dawn” official video from Roadburn Live

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Quarterly Review: Enslaved, Hour of 13, Operators, MaidaVale, Audion, Bone Man, Riff Fist, Helén, Savanah, Puta Volcano

Posted in Reviews on July 12th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-summer-2017

I don’t know about you, but I could do this all day. Listening to records, writing reviews, getting things done that I’ve been trying to get done in some cases for actual months of my life — suffice it to say I’m way into this process. Wednesday is always a special day for the Quarterly Review because we pass the halfway point, and as much as I wish this edition went to 60 or even 70 releases, because rest assured even with 50 total there’s way more I could be covering if I had space/time, the good news is there’s still much more awesomeness to come. Today gets into some different vibes once again, so let’s get started.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

Enslaved, Roadburn Live

enslaved-roadburn-live

In their storied and groundbreaking career, Norwegian progressive black metallers Enslaved have never put out a live record, and it kind of makes sense as to why. The nuance of what they’ve come to do in their studio material doesn’t really lend itself to the rawness of a live album. Accordingly, Roadburn Live (on ByNorse and Burning World Records) feels almost as much of an homage to the event itself as to the performance. Captured in 2015 as Enslaved guitarist Ivar Bjørnson co-curated and the band headlined playing a special set of their more prog-focused songs – here more recent material like “In Times,” “Building with Fire,” “Daylight” from 2015’s In Times (review here) and “Death in the Eyes of Dawn” from 2012’s RIITIIR (review here) shines along with “Convoys to Nothingness” from 2001’s Monumension, “As Fire Swept Clean the Earth” from 2003’s Below the Lights and the requisite “Isa” from the 2004 landmark of the same name, and a special highlight comes at the finale when they cover Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” and bring guitarist Menno Gootjes of Dutch proggers Focus out for a guest spot. Roadburn Live might be a step away from the band’s usual modus, but Enslaved have made their career on pushing themselves beyond their comfort zone, so why stop now?

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Burning World Records website

ByNorse Music website

 

Hour of 13, Salt the Dead: The Rare and Unreleased

hour of 13 salt the dead

An overdue compilation from a band making an overdue return, Hour of 13’s Salt the Earth: The Rare and Unreleased reunites the doomers led by multi-instrumentalist Chad Davis with Shadow Kingdom Records and brings together early demos from 2007 – on which the collaboration between Davis and vocalist Phil Swanson was arguably at its most vibrant as they headed into their self-titled debut full-length later that year – with other previously unissued cuts like three songs with Davis on vocals including the Jason McCash tribute piece “Upon Black Wings We Die” (premiered here) and the original rehearsal demos that introduced Beaten Back to Pure singer Ben Hogg as Swanson’s replacement in the band in 2011 (premiered here). If you want a direct feel for the breadth of the band, look no further than the three versions of “Call to Satan” that appear on Salt the Earth. Widely varied between them in sound and overall feel, they underscore the tumult that has existed since the outset at the core of Hour of 13 even as they provide hope that the band previously laid to rest can revitalize enough to put out a fourth studio offering.

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Shadow Kingdom Records website

 

Operators, Revelers

operators revelers

Nearly four years in the making, Revelers is the third full-length from Berlin’s Operators behind 2013’s Contact High (review here) and 2012’s Operators (review here), and it starts off by smashing Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats swing headfirst into Goatsnake riffing on “Leveled Reveler,” the first of its six component tracks. Their arrangements, as ever, are marked by the featured position of organ along with guitar, bass and drums, and whether it’s a more extended jam like that opener, “Messina” or the closing “Rolling Hitch” – which boasts a guest vocal/guitar spot from Wight’s René Hofmann, who also recorded and mixed (Tony Reed of Mos Generator mastered) – or the shorter momentum-building winding course through “Pusher,” “Walkin’ on Air” (I’m not sure what’s happening at the end there, but I’m not about to spoil it) and the winning-at-song-titles “Fuzz Muncher,” Operators function with a maturity of approach that seems to have been earned during the longer stretch between releases. To wit, all the turns and pivots even out in the last movement of “Rolling Hitch” and Revelers caps with a classic heavy rock groove that’s neither in a hurry nor staid – Operators finding crucial balance amidst all their revelry, and much to their credit.

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Fuzzmatazz Records on Bandcamp

 

MaidaVale, Tales of the Wicked West

maidavale tales of the wicked west

Blues Pills. There. I said it. Now that the blues-rocking elephant in the room has been acknowledged, perhaps we can get on with Swedish four-piece MaidaVale’s debut full-length, Tales of the Wicked West (on The Sign Records). Yes, the Fårösund-based band owe a bit of their soulfulness to the aforementioned, but the nine-track/44-minute long-player thrives most of all as Linn Johannesson, Sofia Ström, Matilda Roth and Johanna Hansson purposefully meander into psychedelic flashes, as in opener “(If You Want the Smoke) Be the Fire,” the midsection of “The Greatest Story Ever Told,” the penultimate Zep-vibing/Bukowski-referencing “Find What You Love and Let it Kill You” and the 11-minute post-“Maggot Brain” closer “Heaven and Earth.” It’s in these moments and the manner in which they blend with the driving rock of “Dirty War,” the bluesy swagger of “Restless Wanderer” and the deft turns of “Colour Blind” early on that MaidaVale’s individualism is beginning to take shape, and if that’s the story that Tales of the Wicked West is telling, then it’s one well worth following through subsequent chapters.

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The Sign Records on Thee Facebooks

 

Audion, La Historia de Abraham

audion-la-histora-de-abraham

Audion’s debut, La Historia de Abraham, is immediately noteworthy in no small part because it brings the rhythm section of Los Natas back together for the first time since that band’s breakup following 2009’s excellent Nuevo Orden de la Libertad (review here). Drummer Walter Broide and bassist Gonzalo Villagra join forces in the new outfit with guitarist Dizzy Espeche, and all three contribute vocals throughout at least in backup capacity, adding variety to go with the instrumental breadth that runs from the serene end of “Llegaron Sordos” right into the rush of “La Maquina del Tiempo” and well beyond later as the interlude “Para Rosita” introduces an earthy acoustidelic feel and “El Carancho” explores ‘70s anthemic rock before the fuzz- and horn-laden finisher “Queruzalem” closes out with a surprising progressive wash. Cuts like opener “Clarence,” the title-track and “Colmillo Blanco” can call to mind Villagra and Broide’s previous work, but Audion make a fresh impression on La Historia de Abraham in the variety throughout, and as they make their way through “Lesbotrans” and “Diablo vs. Dios” and into the second half of the album, it becomes increasingly clear how distinct this first offering actually is.

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Audion on Bandcamp

 

Bone Man, III

bone man iii

To go along with the propulsive rhythm of “False Ambition” and the wash in the payoff of the earlier “These Days are Gone,” there’s a sense of gothic drama to vocalist Marian’s delivery that adds further atmosphere to Bone Man’s III (on Pink Tank Records), and in kind with the cohesive foundation of Arne’s bass, Ötzi’s drumming and his own scorch-prone guitar, that gives cuts like “Cold Echo” and the alternately brooding and explosive centerpiece – layered acoustic and electric guitar filling out the sound further – even more stylistic depth. That moodiness comes perhaps most into focus on the more subdued “Incognito,” but it’s there from the boogie-laced opener “Pollyanna” onward, and in the jagged push of “Years of Sorrow” and the more spacious finale “Amnesia” (still a tightly structured four minutes in length), it lends III a persona stretching beyond what one might think of as the standard genre fare and gives the Kiel, Germany, outfit a presence decidedly their own. It’s their third record, so maybe that’s not a surprise for a band who made their first offering eight years ago, but it serves as a major source of resonance in the material nonetheless.

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Pink Tank Records website

 

Riff Fist, King Tide

riff fist king iii

Going back to 2013, Melbourne, Australia, trio Riff Fist have basically summed up their approach in the eight letters of their name: a tight-knit approach to guitar-led heavy rock, as straightforward as a fist in your face. King Tide is their debut album after three EPs named for the Clint Eastwood Dollars trilogy of westerns – 2015’s The Good, the Loud and the Riff, 2014’s For a Few Riffs More and 2013’s Fistful of Riffs (review here) – and it significantly expands their breadth. Opening with its longest track (immediate points) in the 11-minute title cut (video premiered here), King Tide covers new, more patient and encompassing ground from bassist/vocalist Cozza, guitarist Casey and drummer Joel than anything they’ve touched on before, and while the subsequent “D.T.U.B.,” fuzz-laden “Fist Bier (Noch Eins)” and even the first half of eight-minute centerpiece “Chugg” bring that all-ahead sensibility back into focus, King Tide remains effectively and engagingly informed by its leadoff impression through its total 33-minute run, which is rounded out as “Beer and a Cigarette” melds the more spacious and atmospheric take with a still-swinging post-Clutch groove. There’s more work to do in tying the various sides together, but King Tide is a rousing introduction to the process through which the band can make that happen.

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Riff Fist on Bandcamp

 

Helén, Helén

helen helen

Hexvessel multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Kimmo Helén makes a willfully peculiar and experimentalist self-titled debut with the solo-project Helén via Svart Records, setting a course through melodic indie wash in “Uusi Olento” even as “Jumalan Hullu” threatens in its bounce and the later “Lystia” moves into yet-darker expanses. Keys, electric and acoustic guitar, sax, and of course Helén’s own Finnish-language vocals, there’s very little that feels like it might be outside his comfort zone in terms of craft, and Helén, the album, is just as effective in the plus-cello-acoustic-minimalism of the penultimate “Lopussa” as in the earlier atmospheric breadth of “Puolen Metrin Syvyydessä.” Closing out with the alternately melancholy and dreamy “Kaikki Isä,” the record brings out a full-band feel despite Helén having handled the vast majority of the instrumentation on his own and impresses in that as well as in its range of moods and overarching sense of purpose. May it be a first exploration in a series of many.

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Helén at Svart Records webstore

 

Savanah, The Healer

savanah the healer

I won’t take away from a wah-drenched rocker like “The Healer,” which still jams out plenty before digging into doomier lumbering, but where Austrian trio Savanah’s Stone Free Records debut album, The Healer, really gets its point across is in the fluidity of its longer-form material, whether that’s post-“Intro” opener “Mind,” the ebbing and flowing heavy psych instrumental “Pillars of Creation” or the over-10-minutes-apiece closing pair of the doom rocking “Black Widow” and “Panoramic View of Stormy Weather,” which effectively draws together the multiple aesthetic faces the three-piece demonstrate throughout the record preceding, culling rock, psych and doom into a single riff-driven entity and, most importantly, making it theirs. Guitar leads the way with big, natural fuzz, but the rhythm section is crucial here, and as Benny, Felix and Jakob follow-up their 2015 EP, Deep Shades, they seem to establish a path along which they can flourish and hopefully continue to capture the listener’s attention as they do here.

Savanah on Thee Facebooks

StoneFree Records website

 

Puta Volcano, Harmony of Spheres

puta volcano harmony of spheres

The kind of release where by the end of the first song you want to own everything the band has ever put out. Don’t let Athens’ Puta Volcano get lost in the wash of bands coming out of Greece these days, because there are many, but if you miss out on the blend of desert-style tones and graceful melodies of “Bird,” it’s to your general detriment. I’m serious. In craft and performance, Puta Volcano’s third album, Harmony of Spheres, takes on unpretentious progressivism in songwriting and blends it with a post-Slo Burn/Hermano sense of freedom from genre. Witness the funky “Zeroth Law” or the later, more subtle post-grunge linearity of “Moebius,” the odd chanting repetitions in closer “Infinity” or the nigh-on-maddening hook of “Jovian Winds.” Really, do it. With the lineup of vocalist Luna Stoner, guitarist Alex Pi, bassist Bookies and drummer Steven Stefanidis, Puta Volcano are onto something special in aesthetic and delivery, and if Harmony of Spheres might be your first experience with the band as it’s mine, it’s one that will no doubt warrant multiple revisits. Consider it sleeper fodder for your year-end list – I know I will.

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Puta Volcano on Bandcamp

 

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Enslaved Complete Work on New Album

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 7th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Back in April when Norwegian progressive black metal stalwarts Enslaved began recording their 14th full-length, the occasion was marked here, so now that the album is done, it seems only fair to note that as well. Details remain sparse for the new Enslaved offering and apparently will until Aug. 11 — given that, I’m betting on a release circa October, which still puts it well in time to catch print-mag year-end lists — but I’m willing to take Nuclear Blast at their word when they say it’s finished. Already it’s been a busy year for Enslaved, between their Roadburn Live release for Record Store Day and guitarist Ivar Bjørnson‘s debut with his experimentalist BardSpec, Hydrogen, as well as reissue projects, etc.

Enslaved‘s last full-length was 2015’s In Times (review here), which boldly furthered their evolution into a form of prog all their own.

From the PR wire:

enslaved

ENSLAVED Finish Recording And Mastering Of 14th Studio Album!

It is accomplished – the Norwegian Progressive Black avant-gardists ENSLAVED have finished the recording process of their 14th full-length masterpiece and in the renowned Fascination Street Studios, Jens Bogren polished this new raw diamond with his mixing and mastering skills. Just like for their predecessor In Times, which stormed the soundcheck rankings of the biggest European magazines, the metal veterans from Bergen still never look back and keep expanding their horizons. And this spring they created a spectacular sound chimera of experimental prog filled with majestic melodies, epic sound landscapes and harsh black metal moments – all united in a massive storm that will reach the coast this autumn.

“I’m always psyched and proud when we have finished an album recording, and this is no exception!” states singer Grutle Kjellson. “It was a really exciting process this time, with the line-up change and everything, so although it wasn’t a dramatic change, the band dynamics were suddenly different. But, it was like a little re-boot, a fresh start so to speak. The studio sessions were great, and we all feel that we have done something truly amazing. We hope you’ll enjoy it. Ugh!”

More info on ENSLAVED’s devouring maelstrom will be revealed on August 11th.

In the meantime, enjoy ENSLAVED’s latest album In Times that was released in March 2015 via Nuclear Blast, which blew away both fans and journalists. Secure your physical copy here: www.nuclearblast.de/238143

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Enslaved, “Death in the Eyes of Dawn” official video from Roadburn Live

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BardSpec Post “Bone” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on June 16th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

bardspec-Photo-Christian-Misje

If you’re not sensitive to flashing lights and you’ve got 12 spare minutes to get weird in your day — and I think we all know you do, even if you think you don’t; one has to set priorities for these things sometimes — then Enslaved guitarist Ivar Bjørnson would like to invite you to a droning dance party. And no, that’s not a rave where little robot helicopters fly overhead, though I’m sure that exists somewhere on this planet. It’s a video for the track “Bone” from Bjørnson‘s upcoming BardSpec debut, which trips out in electronic psychedelia even as it pulsates light and beats across an extended runtime atop a bed of longform guitar effects. Drone and dance. Dance and drone.

Whichever order you want to present those two, they serve as the core of “Bone,” and Bjørnson, along with Today is the Day guitarist/weirdo noise legend Steve Austin, gracefully plays to one side or the other of the balance between them throughout. The song, such as it is, is an undertaking to be sure, but in its place serving as the post-intro opener of BardSpec‘s forthcoming debut album, Hydrogen — out June 23 on ByNorse Music — its hypnotic effect proves well suited in drawing the listener in closer and readying them for the true voyage still to come. In other words, yeah, it’s gonna get stranger. That’s the whole idea.

And yet, “Bone” makes its own kind of sense, sets its own context. You can hear the linear build in the midsection, or the fluidity as one part leads into the next. You might need to make your way through it a couple times to get a sense of what is happening, but exploratory as it is in style, there is a sense of direction at work. Bjørnson is by no means flailing as he crafts the movement-filled wash at the apex. He’s poised. Just poised in another dimension. Go ahead and see for yourself. Take a chance on it.

Video is by David Hall, and is followed by more info off the PR wire.

Please enjoy:

BardSpec, “Bone” official video

Hydrogen, is the forthcoming debut from BardSpec, an experimental project featuring Enslaved’s Ivar Bjørnson and Today Is The Day’s Steve Austin.

BardSpec offer up a stunning fusion of stirring, hallucinatory synth-sounds with mercurial guitar effects and hypnotic rhythms that navigate illusory landscapes. Field recordings and other found-sounds also drift and evaporate into the ether. Working intuitively with these elements and with sharpened senses, attuned to inner impulses, this is immersive music, that can exist anywhere, and anytime within the minds of the listener.

BardSpec is inspired by the German masters Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schultze, and Conrad Schnitzler in addition to contemporary ambient music like Norwegian one-man-band Biosphere and abstract modern electronic music like When, as well as the electronic/industrial-driven metal like Godflesh.

BardSpec website

BardSpec on Thee Facebooks

BardSpec on Instagram

ByNorse Music

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