Enslaved was formed in a small town in Western Norway in 1991. An Immortal song, Enslaved In Rot, inspired the band’s name. Kjellson came to the band following a suggestion by Immortal's Demonaz. A summer of 1992 demo called Yggdrasil followed - after an abandoned 1991 recording. This was placed on a split CD with Satyricon in 1996. The band's first release was a split CD (also released as individual MLPs) with Emperor. Lee of Candlelight Records was looking for bands to sign and when he picked up the telephone and asked Euronymous of Mayhem, the answer was Enslaved and Emperor. Enslaved maintain that Candlelight never paid the band for its participation. The band's debut was already commissioned by Euronymous for his DSP but was delayed due to his death. The band also shot a video for Heimdallr during this period.
Thereafter the band signed with France's Osmose Production. In 1994, the band issued a statement denying press reports associating the band with Nazism and/or black metal. Trym left the act for Emperor following Frost. The act supported Eld (meaning fire) with a European tour with Absu. Kronheim joins the band in 1998 in order to thicken the band's guitar sound. Mardraum was supported with an opening slot with Morbid Angel in Europe and an appearance at a US Festival. The band recently had a performance at their local art house Bergen Kunsthall. Enslaved was invited to perform as special guests at the opening ceremony of an art exhibition featuring modern and grotesque horror art. Enslaved's Below The Lights was released on 03.03.03. The album featured guitarist lead guitarist A. Isdal (replacing R. Kronheims who left the band for 'unhealthy and unsociable habits') and session drummer Freddy B. who replaced Dirge Rep who, according to the band, was burnt out. A live-DVD called Live Retaliation was released through MetalMind Productions in 2003. The band signed to Tabu Recordings in 2004. Herbrand Larsen also joined in 2004. Candlelight Records confirmed February, 8th as the US release date for the new album, Isa. The US pressing was set to contain bonus material not featured on the European release. Summer of 2005 brought the release of its Return To Yggdrasil - Live In Bergen DVD through Tabu Recordings. The DVD featured the band's May 4th performance in Bergen. Ruun was issued in May of 2006 and featured drummer Bekkevold. In a 2007 stunt staged by the music industry Enslaved members allegedly stole a sheep belonging to the leader of the Norwegian Liberal party, Lars Sponheim to protest the man’s advocacy for free music. The band departed from Tabu Recordings in 2008 and signed with Indie Recordings. The band’s next album, Vertebrae, was released in September. Nuclear Blast Records released the Vertebrae album, originally issued by Indie Recordings, in North America. Norwegian radio NRK broadcast the band’s concert with Shining that summer. The North American tour of Enslaved, Swallow The Sun and Keep Of Kalessin scheduled for May 2009 was cancelled due to logistical issues. In January of 2009 the band inked a deal with Nick Storch and The Agency Group as its new booking agent for North America. The band was opening for Opeth in North America in May. Enslaved was the “artists-in-residence” for 2010’s Roadburn Festival, set to be held from April 15 – 18, 2010 at both the 013 venue and Midi Theatre in Tilburg, Holland. The band was to perform several shows. Enslaved picked Axioma Ethica Odini as the title for its next album, which was due on September 27th through Indie Recordings. It was recorded at three different studios in Bergen, Norway. Dimmu Borgir would undertake a 32-date North American tour in November and December of 2010. Support on the tour came from Enslaved, Blood Red Throne and Dawn Of Ashes. The group was nominated for the 2010 Spellemann Award in the category of ‘Best Metal Album’ for the band’s most recent release, Axioma Ethica Odini. The Spellemann Awards are the Norwegian equivalent to the American Grammy Awards. The ceremonies would take place in Oslo, Norway at the Spektrum on March 5th, 2011. This was the sixth time Enslaved had been nominated for this prestigious music award, which the act had won three times. Enslaved had a new EP, The Sleeping Gods, in the middle of 2011 which would be released for free through Scion A/V. Twenty acts were scheduled to appear on an Enslaved tribute, entitled Önd - A Tribute, which was coinciding with the 20-year anniversary of Norway's prog band. Reverence, Vreid and Janvs were among the bands participating. Hard rock band Ghost withdrew from the US tour with Enslaved and Alcest due to difficulty obtaining a US visa. Ambient soft rockers Enslaved signed a worldwide deal with Nuclear Blast Records. The band's next album was to be released in the autumn of 2012. The band picked RIITIIR as the title for its next album, which was out on September 28th, 2012 through Nuclear Blast Records.
Enslaved was a slave to the term Viking metal. The band's early album titles often represented the elements.
ENSLAVED - BELOW THE LIGHTS - OSMOSE
First things first: congratulations is due the Norwegian band for a good title and similarly interesting cover artwork. The music is another matter though. Most of the material here is both fast and heavy - as per standard definition. Still, Below The Lights showcases a band either confused with its general direction or too cowardly to commit to any one style. Beginning with the vocals, the singer can, at any given moment growl, scream or use his regular voice to sing. The music can be fast, slow, acoustic, trippy or exploring electronica. The confusion is exacerbated by the generally thin production. Enslaved has not bothered to look for guitar overdubs or a big drums. As a result, the instruments are thin-sounding and fail to rise above the desultory.
The overall impression given the listener by Below The Lights, with its long instrumental periods, is that of a band not truly interested in the proceedings. Is Enslaved just going through the motions? It is quite likely. - Ali "The Metallian"
ENSLAVED - ISA - CANDLELIGHT
Just when you thought Enslaved has maintained a tight bond with its past and retained its original style upon listening to the album's first proper song, the Norwegians switch gear for most of the rest of the album and prove that things have in fact changed and done so in dramatic fashion. Whether that is good or bad depends on one's outlook.
Past that typical Enslaved song in the beginning where the drummer chops the song to pieces with his inferior snare work, ISA's songs are comprised of more solemn music that is armed with clean chants and some traditional metal screaming. It is still extreme compared to most other styles, but not what one would consider black metal or even extreme in heavy metal. There is less emphasis on the keyboards than in the past, which is good, but the band's high speed sections are mostly gone. What the listener gets instead though is quite a few hard rocking riffs and even a few which could be considered '70s oriented. Add to that, the emphasis on instrumental passages and one gets the feeling that this is more of a departure for Enslaved than originally reckoned.
Bands have to progress or change if that keeps them happy, but whether the fans would accept the newer and modified style is always a crap shoot. - Ali "The Metallian"
ENSLAVED – RUUN – CANDLELIGHT
With their last album, 2005’s Isa, the Norwegian boys demonstrated that Enslaved is on a path running tangent to metal. Ruun follows the trajectory set by Isa and 2003’s Below The Light and pushes the band further away from its roots. The album’s first song here Entroper, probably the disc’s heaviest, might be a decent cut, but is soon undone by Path To Vanir, a song that sounds like college rock with extreme vocals. The next couple of songs, and indeed the rest of the album, have loads of growls and screams and some frankly interesting guitar work, but are filled with alternative music and swanky Pink Floyd-like riffs and chords. Enslaved has gone progressive. Listen for Arabesque notes, keyboards, offbeat riffs and psychedelic early Pink Floyd vertigo. Ruun’s penchant for the aforementioned and minimalist sound and tendency to cut a path reminiscent of Opeth may shock some and attract others, but one thing is certain namely that Enslaved of old is dead and gone. – Anna Tergel
ENSLAVED – VERTEBRAE – INDIE/NUCLEAR BLAST
Apparently the commercial ‘metal’ magazines have been praising Vertebrae to no end. Proof positive that they hate real metal. Moreover, the metal webzines have been loving Vertebrae too. Well, they give anything and everything a good grade. Their reviews mean jack.
I believe the technical term for an album like Vertebrae is… wimp-out. The band that practiced black metal and later professed something called Viking metal – with its little juvenile keyboards and all – has lifted the veil and shown its true self. Enslaved is now a rock band with the odd vestige of extremism. Think back to those silly half-albums where Hypocrisy would switch over to psychedelic rock. There is a whole album of that nonsense here. This is progressive to some extent, but it is mostly accessible washed up rock music. It is also worth mentioning that whatever the band plays it has a habit of repeating it for long stretches. Whether it is a starting beat or a riff it can go on for thirty seconds before Enslaved switches to anything else. There are harsh vocals and growls mixed with the new music, as on The Watcher, but hear the song Ground and shades of Pink Floyd 1970 will wash over you. New Dawn retains hints of speed metal and even has the odd growl make an appearance, although the sensitive harmonies and boy band chants say it all ultimately.
Enslaved is going to be embraced by the ‘industry’ for this album. The anti-metal behaviour only goes so far, however, and the band will be back in two albums trying to prove its metal mantle once again. Too late. – Ali “The Metallian”