The Norwegian ensemble continue to amaze after a confounding 2020 full-length.
Words by Luis (@luis.hoa):
The progression of the revered Enslaved is one that continues to serve as an example to analyze across metal's rich history for they stand as one of the few who have managed to pivot far from their roots into a newfound direction successfully. This is band who aimed at straying far from their comfort zone to fully realize their creative ambitions, and they've done so masterfully, as last year's Utgard (2020) would attest. Tomorrow, it'll be a year since that 15th full-length arrived, but today, Enslaved mark another entry into their diverse discography with Caravans To The Outer Worlds (EP).
Quite literal to the title, Caravans is a journey worth taking. Ivar Bjørnson and Grutle Kjellson elaborate the band's contemporary progressiveness with a compact composition that excels at telling a narrative. The opening title track resounds with a haunting bass line that expands with eerie synth until it crescendos with an electrifying guitar solo to die for. Razor sharp riffage ensues and Grutle Kjellson rages on with aggression, shortly followed by a pairing of explosive blasts and soaring Håkon Vinje vocals. Aptly so, the track's music video switches to a view of a volcanic eruption as Vinje's cleans uplift in glorious fashion. Another stupefying solo sneaks up as Iver Sandøy's drumming intricacies keep the energy at a high. Caravans finds every member firing away from every angle, alternating pace seamlessly and offering new layers to uncover with each passing minute. The latter half treads down the atmospheric route and sets the soundtrack for an impending battle through Sandøy's hefty drum tone.
Intermezzo I: Lonnlig. Gudlig, an instrumental number, is slow-burning and lets each element slowly rise to the occasion. You could feel the tension elevating with every consecutive strum and once the midpoint hits, you'll find yourself amidst war. It becomes anthemic in every sense of the word and is further heightened with emphatic bass and melody. Ruun II - The Epitaph harkens back to Enslaved's folk-laden hymns and allow for Vinje's heroic words to take center stage while Isdal's and Bjørnson's guitars radiate an infectious groove. Intermezzo II: The Navigator comes after and is a grand as an intermission gets, letting the choral charm of Vinje's talents take the reign. Though repeating riffs and a growing roar past the midpoint add power to the track, it's all Vinje here again, who puts an exclamation point on the EP as it fades into a close.
With a career spanning three decades, Enslaved have nothing else to prove and yet here they are, continuing to develop towards a grandeur that is ever so present in their output. Caravans To The Outer Worlds is brief yet expansive in all that it's able to pack in the four all-encompassing efforts, efforts that flow seamlessly from one to the next to make up one cinematic experience. Consider this, if you will, a short film that displays the breadth of Enslaved's varied sound palette. Sit down, buckle up, and let Caravans To The Outer Worlds drift you away into a realm unknown.
Caravans To The Outer Worlds is available now via Nuclear Blast. Order your copy HERE.