French label's premiere act has been on
the forefront of Extreme metal since the early 90's, when Norwegian
Black metal was already popular enough abroad. Always being a distance
ahead and having released classics as "Vikingligr Veldi",
"Frost" and "Monumension", the Norses
were able to sell over 100,000 copies with their previous 5 albums.
The making of the CD sees the departure of R.Kronheim and Dirge Rep
(respectively guitars and drums), due to personal problems and fatigue
on their behalf, so the original members Ivar P. and Grutle "No-one
looks more Viking than me" Kjellson had to recruit a new lead axeman
in the person of Arve Isdal.
Probably this is the reason why this CD sounds so fresh and involving;
melodic, epic, roaring, pitch-black and addictive; it leaves you no
choice but to join in the fall to absolute darkness.
"As Fire Swept Clean the Earth" is an obscure mid paced
song with harsh vocals, explosive riffs, death vocals and a faded final.
A nice guitar solo in the metal "The Dead Stare" precedes
a most weird waiting part gifted with strange sounds and vocals; this
is prog space black metal.
An alternation between an arpeggio and climax growth opens "The
Crossing", then we have distorted guitars and a drastic change;
the riffs and the vocals make me state without fear of deny that Enslaved
are the 'Voivod of Black metal'.
The following "Queen of Night" starts with a flute,
light guitars and drumming alà Jethro Tull, then a riff on which
the other guitar sustains itself appears; moreover we can listen to
bewitching techno-thrash guitar solos and flutterings; the vocals are
here quite sad before a very fast black metal assault; the song ends
with the same Megadethian riffs as before.
If you're asking where the Viking parts are, then "Havenless"
will make all your doubts fade; even here we meet further elements like
black-thrash parts followed by so many effects and episodes, too many
to be mentioned. This composition is definitely the most hallucinating
At the borders of ambient is "Ridicule Swarm", but
soon is one of the most violent black moments of the album; to stress
the several superb riffs used here and also a few occasional death vocals;
the end of the song is a bridge with the "Monumension"
The longest track is the closer, "A Darker Place",
a song that includes 5 songs of a normal Black album, as it's so varied!
The most epic and gloomiest album of Enslaved has been given massiveness
and quality sound thanks to a long process that saw the recording at
Griegahallen Studios in Bergen, the mixing by Jørgen Traeen at
Bergen's Duper Stdios and the mastering at Paris' Digipro Studios.
A wrapping path to a unique universe in which spirit and strength are
divinely mixed, "Below the Lights" confirms the pioneer
character of the band, one of the very few to really attempt
something new in an old style like Black by this time, and Heavy Metal
in general. Fucking AWESOME!
MARKUS GANZHERRLICH - 5/04/03