Many international metal magazines refer to the Norwegian band Enslaved as the Kings of progressive metal. Highly anticipated, the band’s new album Vertebrae was released this week. Enslaved are ready to continue where they left off with their previous and hugely successful album RUUN which established the band as metal royalty, in America and the world.
-Metal is the last stand of the physical record, says Enslaved guitarist Ivar Bjørnson in a recent interview with Norwegian National Broadcasting NRK.
-Metal fans are incredibly loyal, they still by real discs, and we hope to sell a lot of copies of Vertebrae.
Enslaved, of Bergen Norway, is a band renowned for their musical integrity as this shines through the evolution of their records and their will to explore and experiment. The band’s breakthrough came with the album ISA in 2004, while the aforementioned RUUN from 2006 was the record that truly put them on the global map of metal and extreme music. Last fall The New York Times joined Enslaved for a leg of their American tour, and concluded that “one need not be a metal fan to enjoy being blown away by the band’s epic and elegant music.”
ISA, RUUN and now Vertebrae. Bjørnson casts some light on the title:
-ISA and RUUN were complex concepts. This time we wanted to express something simpler, a basic mood and also to point directly towards the spine that runs through all our music. I read an interview with Tom waits where he talks about the fact that the vertebrae of a mouse and a giraffe are exactly the same. That was the word we were looking for!
Bjørnson relates how Enslaved feel that their music is characterized by honesty, and that the notion of a red thread running through all their work is something people recognize and appreciate.
-Hard-core black metal fans are still with us even though we’re not playing black metal anymore, says Bjørnson. That is because they recognize the continuation in our music and the fact that even though we’ve moved away from black metal we always keep an emotional perspective on what we do. Enslaved play extreme music, and its essence is about individual freedom. This is something our fans recognize.
Enslaved have always been eager to experiment and to find new and unexpected musical collaborators. They have e.g. played with experimental jazz outfit Shining and made a record with the noise duo Fe-Mail, a project known as Trinacria.
-This time we wanted the album to sound like Enslaved live, says Bjørnson.
-I think people have grown tired of the current perfectionism regarding sound. It has become artificial. We wanted to get back to the general hard rock sound; a background thing instead of cornering ourselves in a niche.
The songs for Vertebrae were written in 2007, while Enslaved where touring non stop in Europe and America.
-The songs were allowed to mature until we had finished touring says Bjørnson. We recorded the album just after Christmas. We were a bit shameless and very lucky in getting “Evil” Joe Baresi to help us produce it. We flew him to Norway and went straight for Ronni LeTekrø’s studio in the deep winter woods.
Baresi is known from his work with Tool and QOTSA, while George Marino, another sound guru who ended up mixing Vertebrae, has worked with Metallica, AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith and many others.
Vertebrae is Enslaved tenth studio album. At the height of their game, the Norwegian band is becoming one of the true icons of extreme metal. After the global success of RUUN a whole world of metal has been waiting for this album in great anticipation and not least to see the band again live.
Bjørnson knows all about the touring that lies ahead of them. Touring is a big part of their lives, maybe the biggest.
–We haven’t had a holiday for two years. And it is not going to get better.
Enslaved embark on a massive tour of Europe on November 6th. Starting in Copenhagen they will travel most of Western Europe. Poland the Baltics and Scandinavia before wrapping it up back home just in time for a little Christmas break.