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Enslaved, Helheim @ Underworld, Camden (UK)

ENSLAVED / Helheim
in Friday, 18 March 2016 at Underworld
by Mike Coyle

There are always occasions where bands will put on a special tour or one off show to celebrate the years they have been together; there are also bands that celebrate the anniversary of a certain record as well, but then there are bands like ENSLAVED who put on a three day event that celebrates the band through the 25 years that they have been together for. Tonight I took the advantage of going to the band’s second day of the three special London based shows presented by By Norse.

As a fan of the band for many years I took the advantage of the band’s second show entitled "From the Runic Depths". This show would present rare songs from the very records that got me into the band when I was younger from such releases as "Mardraum", "Monumension", "Below the Lights", "ISA" and of course, "Ruun". Through these records I became a fan of the band’s unique style of writing which had at this time moved along from Black Metal to a more Progressive touch which inspired me and many of my friends.

It is a great pleasure to be writing a review for what I feel was out of all three shows their more intimate as with a smaller venue you not only get the band at a closer range but you of course you also have the energy of the fans backing you.

For the anniversary shows ENSLAVED had three different bands opening for them in order to make each night a little more special then the last. Tonight we have the band HELHEIM who hail from Bergen, Hordaland Norway. The band were new to me but some of the members not so much as the band has a history with such bands as TAAKE and AETURNUS. From the start of this bands set I was already impressed by the strength in their style and music which, for a lot of the fans, attending tonight was a moment of excitement to see a band such as this bring something to the second day of the ENSLAVED anniversary show. HELHEIM have a sound that takes you back to classic bands such as CELTIC FROST and BATHORY while fusing these influences with their own brand of interesting, if not empowering, Viking Black Metal which I feel is both special and brought a lot to tonight’s show. There are support bands and then there’s HELHEIM: a band that has a lot to offer and so much more to bring.

From the very start of the show we can already see fans relaxed and calm before the start of the band’s set, this I would believe is because we have fans who are of course staying through the three dates of the band’s anniversary shows which shows a lot of commitment, at the same time you don't see this type of event every day now do you?. The band approach the stage as calm and energetic as the crowd which can be seen by band frontman and bass player Grutle Kjellson interacting with the fans and showing them how much he appreciates their attendance which I found to be incredible and without a doubt a perfect representation to why this band is still loved by fans. They opened with the track “Path to Vanir” off the band’s 2006 release, “Ruun”. Throughout this song we already see excited fans getting in to the power of this classic which, I feel, for a lot of fans, means a lot for the band to have opened with this as a lot of tonight’s crowd will have naturally been fans who have grown with the band over the course of their evolution. With a lot of these fans they will have grown with the band’s music in many ways as well.

Tonight’s set is a mix of the albums stated above showing that we have the middle of the band’s  career being presented to us in one whole showing, for a lot of bands it would be impossible to try and accomplish something of this magnitude but then again we are talking about Enslaved, a band that over the course of their carrier has in fact created songs that have broken the impossible which of course leads us into the band’s song “Ruun”. “Ruun” is one of those songs you always get excited for just because of the way it is structured and just because it is truly one of the band’s more beautiful songs to listen to. Mixing together different elements, the track is sung by keyboardist Herbard Larsen which creates a nice and smooth atmosphere for the song. For this track we see a mix of twin vocals playing a part in the song as we see both Herbard and Grutle performing to the best of their capabilities creating a power if not emotional performance of skill and precision the likes of nothing I ever get to see.

Through the set we see “The Voices” being performed perfectly in the underworld venue; off the band’s 2001 release, “Monumention”, it starts as always heavy and powerful with the type of thunderous roar you would expect from the band. Hearing this song live and up close is unreal to be honest as it almost feels like a force of nature that can never be tamed as it is a track that packs in everything that ENSLAVED are in terms of their songwriting skills and ideas which come to life in the blink of an eye with this powerhouse of a song. What I love most of all about this show is the way the band have been able to interact with their audience which for a lot of shows like this is never really seen, but seeing ENSLAVED interact with their fans reminds me of seeing a local show where everyone knows the band in one way or another. Seeing this happen almost brought a tear to my eye just because it's a perfect setting.

Through the bands set we see a fan favorite arise, the song “Havenless” off the band’s record “Below the Lights” released in 2003. I won't lie when I say that this is one of my favorites from the band’s catalogue which is by far one of their catchier songs which can be seen from the start of this track with chanting and fans chanting along with them, it's a thing of beauty. The song itself is a song you can march to and clap your hands to as well, it's strong and powerful and the audience agrees whole-heartedly as well which shows that a lot of tonight’s crowd have been waiting for this powerhouse all night which can be seen by the force the fans have shown tonight in their singing.

So we come to the end of show and sadly the band have reached their time limit for the night, this is a shame as the band had two more tracks to play: “As Fire Swept Clean the Earth” and “ISA”. Many of the fans had been looking forward to, though sadly it seems tonight the venue holds host to a club night which really cannot be helped. Besides this, tonight has been a night of excitement and memories to be cherished by all, it can be said that no matter what ENSLAVED are a band that I will always support no matter what which can also be said by tonight’s crowd.

1. Path to Vanir
2. Fusion of Sense & Earth
3. Ruun
4. Return to Yggdrasill
5. The Voices
6. Bounded by Alllegiance
7. Mardraum
8. Ormgard
9. Havenless
10. Froyas Smykke
11. Convoys to nothingness
12. The crossing

13. As fire swept clean the earth
14. ISA

Promoter: By Norse
Ticket Price:


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