As an Enslaved fan I was super excited with their new release, with almost 30 years of career and three years after “E” the norwegian group released their fifth album Utgard. In every album they try to introduce to the listener some histories about the nordic culture – Utgard is no exception, referring to the mythological land of giants which is also associated with Loki ‘s history.
When I heard Utgard for the first time I was a little bit disappointed, since I was expecting some more “old school” Enslaved. Utgard it is not, for me, the most interesting album of Enslaved. Nonetheless, it brings us some novelties and surprises, for example Iver Sandoy vocals skills. Iver has been Enslaved drummer for only two years now, and for the first time in the song “Homesound” he shows us his vocal skills – using clean vocals that perfectly contrast with Grutle Kjellson ‘s growls, creating a beautiful atmosphere.
With the songs “Jettegryta“, “Flight of Thought and Memory” and “Homebound” they slightly return to they old style, which for me its defined by some of their black metal riffs. Unfortunately, this sonority is not kept throughout the songs that comprise this album, and as the record plays, the songs get lighter, which makes me wonder if Enslaved are aiming to slowly change their defining style. For example, “Urjotun” track, if listened while being unaware of the band behind it, I would never assume that this is an Enslaved song – In a way it reminded me of Oranssi Pazuzu ‘s style, with psychedelic riffs and some punk-rock vibe. Nonetheless, “Urjotun” together with “Jettegryta” are for me the highlights of this album.
Utgard tells us about chaos, as the gods are at war and there is a total lack of control over the situation – maybe this is intended to be a metaphor to the times we are currently facing. This was not an album that made me fall in love with it from the first listen, but if you give it a few spins it may grow on you and will end up liking it. It’s a perfect soundtrack for these rainy autumn days, which will make you travel through the darkness and weakness of gods.
Review by: Lara Brito
Managing editor: Elsa Marques