Four of Norwegian extreme metal’s strongest acts head out on a UK tour this week.
This week sees Enslaved, Zyklon, 1349 and Keep of Kalessin teaming up for a UK tour that is set to showcase some of Norwegian extreme metal’s strongest acts. The four bands are scheduled to play in Colchester, Sheffield, Glasgow, Manchester, Birmingham and London.
A crowning of a successful career, this year’s ‘Ruun’ album firmly established Enslaved as one of Norwegian metal’s most central acts. The band has been a mainstay on the Norwegian metal scene since the early 90s, and continues to set the standard for hard-hitting musical extremism.
Enslaved was formed in 1991, by Ivar Bjørnson and Grutle Kjellson. Joined by drummer Trym Torsson, they did their first demo in the summer of 1992. While working with the first full length, there came a call from England, resulting in the two 1993 legendary mini albums; Enslaved-“Hordanes Land” and Emperor-“s/t”. Enslaved’s debut album “Vikingligr Veldi” was released in spring 1994. Enslaved moved their label base to French Osmose Productions, and “Frost” were released late in the 1994. Enslaved were now known outside the Black/ Extreme circles of Northern Europe. This led to the “Winter War Europe Tour ‘95”, and the first Norwegian Black/ Extreme tour ever in the US, Canada and Mexico during ’95.
Enslaved’s “Eld” saw its release in 1997.
Enslaved released an important milestone in 2000 with “Mardraum (Beyond the Within)”, which marked a turning point for the band; and sent shock waves through the Extreme Metal scene with a revolutionary experimental and innovative approach to their genre. The band kept pouring on coal, and released “Monumension” in 2001, and again the band were shocked to see the positive response to their “no rules” approach to Extreme Metal. Gigs were still being played in Norway, Europe and the States, in front of a faithful and ever increasing audience.
A new line-up were put together during and after the recording of “Below the Lights”, including old-timer Cato Bekkevold (Red Harvest founder), Arve Isdal and Herbrand Larsen. With all the changes left behind, Enslaved reached new heights with their live performance, also adding strong visual elements in the shape of video art and more. English market leader Kerrang! rewarded their Inferno 2004 performance with a full house: 5 K!’s.
The new line-up recorded ‘Isa’ during the autumn of 2004, and was released in Oct/Nov ’04 (Feb ’05 in the US). The album received raving reviews in all territories (, and put Enslaved at the very forefront of contemporary Extreme Metal. A European Tour with fellow Norsemen Vreid took place in February and March 2005. The tour was rewarded with both great reviews and great turnouts. In absentia, during the tour, Enslaved also received both the Norwegian Grammy and the independent Alarm Price for ‘Isa’.
Line-up: Ivar Bjørnson (guitar), Grutle Kjellson (vocal & bass), Cato Bekkevold (drums), Arve Isdal (lead guitar), Herbrand Larsen (keyboard & vocal).
Listen to excerpts of Enslaved’s latest album Ruun here
Listen to and download Enslaved audio here
Founded in 1998, it was evident from the start that Zyklon was to be more than just a "side project" for the then-Emperor guitarist and drummer. Teaming with Destructhor (also of Myrkskog), the trio's rehearsals ignited a spark that would put them on the fast track. Enter England's Candlelight Records. Already home to Emperor, Candlelight was the best and obvious first choice for the band and their recording future. Enlisting Daemon from Limbonic Art for vocals and featuring a guest appearance from Kristoffer Rygg (Ulver, Arcturus), "World ov Worms" was recorded and released February 2001 in Europe and followed in April for the United States. The band would tour worldwide with Morbid Angel and by year's end the album would find itself upon many magazine and critic "Best of Year" lists.
Work began on Aeon in early 2002 with the band's writing and rehearsing seeing out the end of the year. Recording commenced in February 2003 with final work completed in May. The album's cover art was created by long-time friend and accomplished designer Stephen O'Malley.
Whereas previous work catered around the studio, Zyklon is equally dedicated to the live arena. With festival appearances already confirmed and tours looming on a horizon that will see the band living for the stage till the early months of 2004, "Aeon" will ultimately earn its merit where it ought to - in front of the band's dedicated and growing fan base.
1349 rose from the ashes of Alvheim in 1997, with Ravn (vocals & drums), Tjalve (guitars), Seidemann (bass) and Balfori (guitars). Come spring 2000, 1349 decided to record a new promo showcasing the new material, and Frost of Satyricon was asked to lay down the drum tracks to get the speed required. Frost was later so impressed by the material, that he asked to join 1349 as a permanent member. Holycaust Records offered them a deal and released the new promo as an eponymous MCD. By early 2001, the band felt they had enough killer songs for a full-length album - Liberation. Recorded and mixed at Gordon Studios, Liberation blended old school soundscapes with warp-speed hysteria. In the wake of such yet unreleased but unforgiving material, 1349 supported Gorgoroth, Cadaver Inc. and later performed at the Hole in he Sky festival in Bergen in 2001, as well as the Inferno festival in Oslo in 2002. After signing a new deal with Candlelight Records, Liberation was released in April 2003.
This was the year when 1349 began to reap the fruits of their dark labour - their debut album received critical and public acclaim and several magazines hailed the band as The Newcomer of the Year. They were rebooked to play the Inferno Festival, and on Germany's high profile With Full Force Festival, where they shared stage with such high calibre bands as Zyklon, My Dying Bride and Moonspell. Their first European Tour with compatriots Aeternus and Red Harvest in November ended the year on a high for 1349.
Released by Candlelight Records, Beyond the Apocalypse helped 1349 secure their quality old school black metal reputation. On top of touring with Gorgoroth during fall 2004, 1349 performed at Aalborg Metal Fest in Denmark, Nihil Extreme Music Festival in Italy and Arnhem Metal Meeting in the Netherlands, as well as the Hole in the Sky, Månefestivalen and Working Class Hero Festivals in Norway.
Hellfire, the bands 3rd album, recorded at Studio Studio Nyhagen in the course of 2005, is their most powerful musical offering so far. 1349 have refined their highly reputed sound into audible hellfire! Hellfire has received massive acclaim by fans and critics alike, scoring 5 K's in KERRANG! and becoming album of the month in Terrorizer. When the time came to hit the road in autumn 2005 1349 once again chose Gorgoroth as their touring partners and spent 5 weeks spreading the plague through Europe.
Keep of Kalessin
Keep of Kalessin spawned back in 1994, under the name Ildskjaer, by hand of Ghash and Obsidian C. , later joined by Vyl and Warach. The band´s violent yet dark and epic Black metal as well as the somewhat mysterious monicker and lyrics, are inspired by the work of fantasy of the American writer U. Le Guin ´The Earthsea Quartet´.With this concept in mind, the guys recorded the first demo ´ Skygger av sorg´ in the Fall of 1996, though several problems in finding a proper rehearsal room made this task rather difficult and as a matter of fact the lack of practice resulted in an untight performance on tape and a consequent limited spreading of it. Only some ten labels and magazines received it and the response was surprisingly positive, gracing the band with a contract from Italy's Avantgarde Music. The debut album ´Through times of war´ was recorded in summer 1997 in Brygga studios, Trondheim and presented the band with a crystal clear yet heavy production on some ear-blasting music which has been often compared to Mayhem's opus ´The mysteriis´. A couple of years later, after some pretty successful gigs played around Norway together with Bloodthorn, the quartet returned with ´Agnen. A journey through the dark´, again recorded in the much appreciated Brygga studio.With this second album the band actually took much distance from the now trendy Norwegian Black metal style, picking up influences from the Thrash and Death metal genres thus establishing a rather Swedish oriented sound. But the guys did not forget their roots and therefore they took part in the much anticipated Mayhem tribute album released by Avantgarde itself. Their superb interpretation of ´Buried by Time and Dust´ put them right up there with the likes of Emperor, Gorgoroth, Dark Funeral, just to name a few of the top class bands also appeared on this ambitious project.
In the year 2000 the line-up split due to personal reasons, but guitarist and songwriter Obsidian C. wouldn't let that stop him. He continued to make Kalessin-style music and developed his own style even more. This ultra-fast, brutal and yet melodic style needed a drummer, but in the small town of Trondheim he was unable to find one that could keep up with his riffing. Almost three years would pass and then he was offered the job in Satyricon after he had auditioned and played the ass off some 30 other guitarists from all over the world who had applied for the job. As soon as he was a part of Satyricon he was also in contact with one of black metal´s fastest and most brutal drummers, Frost!
Listen to excerpts from Keep of Kalessin’s latest album Armada here
Listen to and download Keep of Kalessin audio here
Tour dates and venue info is found in the calendar section.