Celebrating their landmark achievement of twenty five years together in 2016, Norway’s Enslaved have grown from the Black Metal caterpillar into a beautiful Prog butterfly. Slowly but surely worming their way into the coveted Prog scene, each release has slowly seen the band assimilate even more characteristics of Prog. Yet while the band might have been absorbing the instrumental ethos of Prog, the group have carried with them the sentiment of Black Metal. Leading us to 2017, the band released their iconic statement “E” with newly appointed keyboardist come crooner, Hakon Vinje. Celebrating a successful tour with label mates Opeth, tonight the band end their UK run with a headline performance at Islington’s Assembly Hall.
The temporary home of Prog troubadours, Islington Assembly Halls is fast making a name for itself as the premier for Progressive acts. As the crowd trickles in, its the perfect example of just how far wide and far reaching the band’s acquisition is. Ranging from the slender Black Metal followers, the beer belly Proggers and everyone in between Enslaved’s audience tonight reaches all sorts of demographic.
As the imperious insignia looms above the crowd, the air is thick with anticipation for the return of Nordic giants. Beginning with the thundercrack of “Storm’s Son”, Enslaved’s opening gambit might be a full ten minutes yet its over within the blink of an eye whilst reinforces the anvil heavy weight of outro rhyrthm section. Paving the way for the blizzard that is “Roots of The Mountain”, the ethereal atmosphere that transports the listener to Enslaved’s Palaeolithic plain in “Return To Yggdrasil” still maintain’s its firm grim in the Black Metal void. Though its temporarily shattered with just how charismatic the repartee between both Ivar and Grutle is, proving that the band still hold the uncontested comedic spotlight.
For those who might have thought that the band’s earlier works would clash with more recent progressive offerings, fear not as the double whammy of “One Thousand Years of Rain” leads perfectly into “Sacred Horse” seeing guitarist Ivar Bjørnson (ahem) take the reins on lead guitar, its definitely a standout moment in the show. With Enslaved cherry picking only their most epic of tracks, the band might only play 11 songs but it lasts the entire two hour set. Ending on a triumphant “Isa” its all gone by in the blink of an eye. With twenty six years under their belt and an ever evolving fan base, the band have a hard time choosing sonic suitors for its audience and tonight they have proven themselves once more as one of Norway’s most innovative and truly exploratory bands in every sense of the word. Magnificent.