Below the Lights

(Osmose Prod.)


MARK: 97/100


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 and oppressive.
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" ones.
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!