Having recently won their fourth consecutive Spellemannprisen for last year’s astounding Axioma Ethica Odini, Enslaved have firmly cemented their place at the very top of Norway’s musical exports alongside the likes of Dimmu Borgir, Satyricon and Immortal. We thought we’d head down to the Underworld to celebrate the Bank Holiday weekend in true (tr00/trve) Viking style.
Six things we learned when Enslaved played Camden Underworld:
- Opening with three tracks off Axioma Ethica Odini sets the tone for the evening perfectly, intimating the mentality of a band that choose not to linger in the past but rather embrace their own musical evolution with open arms. The majority of the set is comprised of material from the past four albums, and it’s a bit like a “Best of Enslaved’s progressive years”.
- Those gargantuan riffs are treated well by the Underworld’s tight acoustics and the new material sounds even more astronomical than it did last time round on Dimmu Borgir’s Darkness Reborn tour. Tonight, as headliners with the time and space to fully project their sheer brilliance, they are unstoppable.
- Arve ‘Ice Dale’ Isdal is one of the coolest European guitar players out there. His phrasing is melodically calculated with choice notes that are almost bluesy in feel, and effortlessly sit at the very top of an already elaborate wall of sound. Visually he could be Richard Kruspe’s younger brother: standing topless with leather trousers tucked into black boots, with all the posture of a classic gunslinger.
- Herbrand Larsen’s vocals sound beautiful and euphoric, acting as glimmers of hope in between Grutle’s venomous black metal rasp. With these clean vocal parts more prominent on the last few records, Enslaved seem to have found the perfect balance between the lighter and darker elements within their sound.
- Tonight’s show is sold out and the crowd are quite an odd bunch. The room is full of the usual leather-clad, black metal die-hards as well as daring prog fans, lethargic stoners and even a few bodybuilder types that get a bit hot and sweaty in the pit. This is what happens when you go experimental.
- The setlist bypasses the first half of their career – no material is played from the first seven studio albums. The only older songs performed are ‘Allfadr Odhinn’ and ‘Slaget i skogen bortenfor’ – both live favourites from Enslaved’s earliest recordings before their Vikingligr Veldi debut. There are few bands that have been as innovative and able to maintain such perpetual integrity – Enslaved are very much part of a select breed that continue to get better and better.
Enslaved @ Camden Underworld 22/04/10 setlist:
Fusion of Sense and Earth
Return to Yggdrasil
Slaget i skogen bortenfor