Genre: Pagan/Progressive/Black Metal/Epic
Label: Nuclear Blast Records
As Enslaved are marching in the end of their third decade of their career, their 15th studio album finds them still experimental but always having on their mind their roots. So it isn’t so strange that in “Utgard” (in Norse mythology, Útgarðar (literal meaning: “Outyards”; plural of Útgarðr; the word can be anglicized to Utgard, Utgardar and in other ways) surrounded a stronghold of the Ettings. These outdoor arenas contrast with the putrid, indoor cave where Útgarða-Loki is said to dwell, when chained, in the Gesta Danorum. In another version of Norse mythology, Utgard is thought to be the final of the three worlds connected to Yggdrasil being the home of the external cosmic forces. Utgard needs be compared with the Midgard and Asgard) the band tries to balance among its glorious black metal past and its brave progressive present and eventually they have managed to incorporate nearly equal amounts of these two worlds. It’s not an easy job to do. New elements such as spoken word parts into some songs adds a ritualistic feeling, while you can still find some straight-forward songs with full force and traditional riffing and blast beats. The album has a certain flow with a perfect mixture of slow, mid paced and fast parts. You can still find a love letter to Bathory in Enslaved’s sound, but you will also jump into electronic or kraut-rock moments that follow one another or into ambitious, doozy, dark and almost cinematic synths. Furthermore clean and guttural vocals roar and mourn with confidence, creating an album full of emotions and symbolism, similar to its predecessor, 2017’s “E”, with one big difference, the six “E”’s compositions had slow builds and were longer, while “Utgard”’s eight tracks are more psychedelic, more adventurous, yet last shorter’ less than 5 minutes long. Lyrically speaking cover Norse Mythology and Paganism and are wisely written in a mixture of Norwegian and English language, making it more accessible to the masses without losing the connection to the band’s members origins. A must buy for all of Enslaved’s fans and progressive worshippers.