Enslaved – Caravans To The Outer Worlds

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Reviewed: November 2021
Released: 2021, Nuclear Blast Records
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Kira Levine

Norway’s Enslaved have grown a fair distance from their black metal roots, yet are still attached to them like a tree (which is admirable after three decades). Forming in 1991, they have now blossomed into a brand of metal that can be described as both extreme and progressive, incorporating more modern approaches while still keeping elements such as the screamed vocals and buzzing guitars. This EP shares a lot with 2020’s Utgard, with its electronic and symphonic tinges painting an aural picture of otherworldliness.

The interplay between Grutle Kjellson and Håkon Vinje’s voices during ’Caravans to the Outer Worlds’ depicts a blend of aggression and fantasy, respectively. The clean vocals are not as show-stopping as drummer Iver Sandøy’s (on ‘Homebound‘ from Utgard, for example), but do suit the overall ethereal vibe here. Ivar Bjørnson and Arve Isdal ensure that things don’t get too symphonic, with their ravaging riffs battling the electronic effects to great effect.

Intermezzo I – Lonnlig. Gudlig’ is a dark and quirky wordless chapter, made all the more ominous by the drumming style of Sandøy. The progressive side of the EP is unmistakable here. The track starts off quite organically with some sounds of nature, before developing into a synth-lead piece accompanied by the sound of laughter.

Marking the return of lyrics, ‘Ruun II – The Epitaph’ contains less effects and only clean singing. It’s a very different creature to ‘Ruun,’ from their 2006 award-winning album of the same name. It’s the calmest offering so far, with echoed utterances of words such as “linger, dance and carve” causing some lines to feel more significant than others.

Instrumental finale ‘Intermezzo II – The Navigator’ closes the release, with Vinje’s keyboard part sounding a lot more isolated and prominent this time around, particularly in the first half.

Every song on the EP manages to sound futuristic and ancient simultaneously, thanks to the use of effects over the instruments and the stellar vocal performances (when they are present). At only 20 minutes long, Caravans to the Outer Worlds delivers more than many LPs three times its length can. A fantastic follow-up to Utgard, that will surely have listeners eager to hear what’s next from the Nordic quintet.


Videos:


Tracklisting:

1. Imperial Congregation
2. Itika
3. Conquered Malevolence
4. Transparent Existence
5. Inferior Elegance
6. We All Bleed
7. 6:7
8. Consumed Illusion
9. Hero Antics
10. Zarathustra

Band line-up:

Grutle Kjellson – lead vocals, bass, mouth harp, electronics, effects
Ivar Bjørnson – guitars
Arve Isdal – guitars
Håkon Vinje – keyboards, vocals
Iver Sandøy – drums

Websites:

Caravans To The Outer Worlds – MOONSTONE Vinyl
Enslaved.no
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