18th March 2016
Review by Ben Spencer
Photography by Jo Moolenschot
On the second evening of London by Norse several fans from last night’s debut celebration are loitering around in the line, ready for the second instalment of the Norwegian invasion. The doors open and the near empty bar soon packs out with hungry metal fans making purchases by the merch stall and bar.
Opening band Helheim (3.5/5) take to the stage and burst straight into a savage array of black metal. Full of misanthropic vocals and bleak riffs, the band certainly don’t pull any punches in their sound.
The band comes with a strong forward thinking approach to the genre and dish out plenty of bone chilling soundscapes. Their set appears to have a mix of reactions with the fans, with some drawing in and others repelling from the void they conjure.
Essentially, these guys are a talented band whose sound belongs to the darker regions of modern black metal. With plenty of intensity and intricate lead guitar work, there is something undeniably appealing about the pull of their blistering noise.
Gravlagt i Eljudne
Baklengs mot intet (not yet released)
Home of once brave (Bathory cover)
Dualitet og Ulver
Following from an impressive opening act, the seasoned black metal collective Enslaved (4/5) assume positions on stage and waste no time in the execution of their mid era arsenal. The infectious guitar groove of ‘Path to Vanir’ shows Enslaved combine more melody with their aggression. The proggy undertones flood in with Pink Floyd subtitles as the clean vocals run high above the live instrumentation.
Picking up the pace, ‘Fusion of Sense and Earth’ gets heads turning as the quintet ramp up the aggression. The heavy riffs and speedy drum work get fans busting out their air guitar skills and cheering along with plenty of vitality. Indeed, a perfect wake up call.
Enslaved’s set flows seamlessly, as they play barge onward with both confidence and innovation. ‘The Voices’ comes with plenty of larger than life riffs and plenty of head banging from metal fans near the sound desk.
The chaotic tone of ‘Mardraum’ pushes the band’s technical abilities to their best as the tight drums, heavy bass slams and cymbal crashes give everything that much needed grittiness as the room ruptures to the visceral drums.
Meanwhile, fans rejoice to the distinctly Norwegian triumph of ‘Havenless’. The track instantly resonates with the sweaty venue and has onlookers singing back at the top of their lungs. The whole thing feels like a victory chant in the aftermath of a great battle that you read about in a history book.
Closing off, with one of their most memorable prog anthems, ‘The Crossing’ is also an instant crowd pleaser. The guitars and solid drum work scale upward, with euphoric fans nodding along and cheering during its melodic intervals, but head banging during the song’s heavier crunch.
While some argue that it takes from Enslaved’s most diluted era of music, the atmosphere of their set does not reflect any loss of intensity on the band’s part. If anything, their confidence in what they do feels more natural; even if less nightmarish than their earlier artillery. There is something celebratory about what they deliver, and it is their ability to engage their fans and push boundaries that mark this as an essential part of their career. Great work guys.
Path to Vanir
Fusion of Sense and Earth
Return to Yggdrasil
Bounded by Allegiance
Convoys to Nothingness