I will take you home... Feo's Stuff BLACK METAL
Comics, Graphic Novels, and Anime
Horror, Thriller, Suspense, and Mystery Movies
Literature and Writers
Shadow Music


Write Us:

Feo Amante
Be sure to write:
Feo Reader
in the subject line else you may be bounced like JunkeMail


Shadow Music Ryan Harding Review by
Ryan Harding
Enslaved: Mardraum
ENSLAVED: MARDRAUM (Beyond the Within)
Osmose Productions/Necropolis Records

When we last left ENSLAVED, they had laid waste with the more to-the-point aggression of BLODHEMN, an album overflowing with energy and conviction. It was as different from ELD as ELD was from FROST and VIKINGLIGR VELDI before it. In other words, it'd be ill-advised to approach MARDRAUM expecting BLODHEMN PART TWO. True to form, it is a very different album from its predecessors, yet also very much an ENSLAVED creation.

The opening track is an immediate contrast to anything off BLODHEMN, which eschewed epic song lengths altogether. "Storre enn tid - Tyngre enn natt" clocks in over ten minutes, as it lesiurely pulls itself together and plugs itself in. Guitarist Ivar Bjornson was the major songwriting force behind ENSLAVED before, but now he seems to be sharing the responsibilities more with other guitarist Roy Kronheim. Arriving from a progressive rock background, Kronheim puts a twisted touch to tracks like "Aeges draum" and "Daudningekvida," putting a technical spin on the Enslaved penchant for mid-to-high range melodies. Bassist/vocalist Grutle delivered one of BLODHEMN's best, and here contributes another stand-out: "Krigaren eg ikkje kjende."

ENSLAVED hasn't been so structurally ambitious before. In recent interviews Ivar has talked about his enjoyment of more simplistic songwriting, but there's little to be found of that on MARDRAUM. His opening riff on "Ormgard II" is one of the many stand-outs on the album, and his mostly plodding "Entrance - Escape" is a definite highlight. He's always been capable of writing memorable riffs, but those on MARDRAUM especially assimilated themselves into my mind, and I could immediately recall them even without the benefit of several listens. Make no mistake, though, MARDRAUM doesn't give up all its secrets immediately. It functions on a subconscious level as well, be it the sprawling beginning or the rapidly-changing "Aeges draum."

Kronheim is now also helping out on the vocals, primarily in the clean singing of "Entrance - Escape." Once more he does the lion's share of the solos, and comes up with some memorable offerings. Grutle's presence is unmistakable with his readily indentifiable blackened vocal style, where you can almost hear throat tissue disintegrating at the conclusion of the opening track. Drummer Dirge Rep is not as dominant a force as he was last time, but he gets plenty of opportunities, particularly with the faster tracks toward the end.

There's 58 minutes of thoughtful songwriting to navigate on MARDRAUM, another solid entry into the ENSLAVED discography. You can practically see them moving even further ahead of their competition, constantly defining and refining viking metal. Necropolis Records apparently scored a domestic distribution deal, because they have released MARDRAUM in actual stores. I never expected to walk into any cd store around here and just be able to buy this, so its availability is much wider than the previous ENSLAVED albums. Those who haven't experienced this elite Norwegian band are encouraged to take advantage.


Perplex SkullPerplex SkullPerplex SkullPerplex SkullPerplex Skull

This review copyright 1998 E.C.McMullen Jr.

Return to Shadow Music

Feo Amante's Horror Home Page and feoamante.com are owned and copyright 1997 - 2006 by E.C.McMullen Jr.
All images and text belong to E.C.McMullen Jr. unless otherwise noted.
All fiction stories belong to their individual authors.
I Will Take you Home