Enslaved “Monumension” (2001)

Much has been written about the Norwegian phenomena, the ultimate mutant of the eclectic 70’s guitar works and the black metal mechanisms – here is some more: let us talk about the evergreen sharp senses that enables exploring, changing, inventing. About the king’s new wardrobe – the iron shield forsaken for the benefit of eyes in the sky and magnifying glass. Well, maybe not completely – the certain northern vibe remained, shaped as a Viking heritage, filling the role of whispering embers beneath their feet.

With this potion, went the band to new journey into the different selves a human can offer. The first station was “Mardraum – Beyond the Within”, and as the name hints, it was the very first step in this everlasting quest to reveal the essences. This album was much of an unripe fruit, although it was the fifth in number and symbolized the growing hunger that comes with maturity, with age and wisdom. Moreover, the celebrations of new horizons found and the direction lied ahead. Maybe it’s not fair to compare it with the future efforts of the band, but we do have the ability to see it through, so when one locate it within the scale, it is clear that this album was the dawn of a new age. It showed the path.

“Monumension” was the peg of the Enslaved tent, composed of black metal and that heavy 70’s influence – which means prog structures and dark psychedelic clouds. Creating such mutants has always been a journey and I cannot think of any other metaphor more suitable to the music of Enslaved, let alone their manifestations. The first song, still a spore and not yet to be sprouted, bears the crafty name “Convoys to Nothingness”, cannot be tested for this premise. Although it is dark and intense, but it shrouded in masquerade, thanks to the traditional composition and raw arrangements of days of yarn. Nevertheless, how can we detect the new moves of Enslaved? Perhaps we should look through the dainty dark atmosphere created in the last part of the song (from 5:17 and so forth), as a silent departure into the rough riffing of the second song, “The Voices”. Until that sudden farewell, the guitar shades moving as those psychedelic snakes to the leading flute, taken from the King Crimson court. The following are hordes of lazy bass, gentle drumming and echoes of distant distortions in the beyond. Through this well build and fascinating song, though heavily fastened to past, lay all these little hints, waiting to bloom.

Although we crossed the last wave of goodbye to the epic past, it is obvious that the raw arrangements will keep their splinters along the convoy’s course. Yet is it also very explicit that the more prog-ish structures will be leading the journey and that is the core of the recent Enslaved repertoire. This very core is present in different parts of songs such as the sincere lead bursts of “The Voices” or the almost Darkthrone-ish black masquerade of “Vision – Sphere of the Element”, studded with wacky solos. More precisely, each song contains several changes, in mood and melody, forces us to listen carefully and without prejudice to the combined worlds of Vikings who enjoys Gentle Giant concerts. 

All the songs rely on the highly smart and seasoned artisanship and the absence of boundaries between the good old-fashioned stringed rawness and the intricacy of arrangements and composition. Only the total lack of boundaries allow the dark shining of songs like “Hollow Inside”, an official prog-ballad or the early Genesis feel of “The Cromlech Gate”.

The course of Enslaves directed straight into the unexplored meadows of the prog-black lands. The sailors, in their wisdom, shaped the album as an adventure, where each song is more complicated than the previous, without being torn and twisting from puzzling and amazement. Flawless, strong, self-absorbing album is offspring of this harbor.
Let us end with some vivid imagery. What is the album, if not our jolly Viking listening with a big bearded smile to his old man’s records, he found in the basement. He still holding his blooded ax, but the other hand is gently strumming an invisible air-guitar. Enslaved just turned out to be his bride – she is beautiful as he ever imagined and he feels he already knows her, but she is different, so mysterious, complex and clever. It is the first successful marriage of black and prog. Congratulations.



Release:  2001
Label:  Osmose Productions
Avantgenre:  Probably Problack
Duration:  59:37
Origin:  Norway
Official site:  None
Review online since:  15.12.2009 / 11:23:08


01 – Convoys To Nothingness
02 – The Voices
03 – Vision: Sphere Of The Elements – A Monument Part II
04 – Hollow Inside
05 – The Cromlech Gate
06 – Enemy I
07 – Smirr
08 – The Sleep: Floating Diversity – A Monument Part III
09 – Outro: Self – Zero

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