It is testament to Enslaved’s 30-year career as black metal expansionists and extreme metal progressives that the breadth and depth of their sonic evolution cannot be easily contained to a single collection. Not that the four-part Cinematic Tour 2020 release doesn’t give it a good try, however, collating footage and audio from the band’s pandemic-era livestreams into a four-part collection demonstrating the sheer scope of what they have achieved.
With a little over three hours’ worth of material and 26 songs there are a few overlaps, but for the most part each disc presents a different facet of Enslaved’s output. The combined spread of Chronicles Of The Northbound and The Rise Of Ymir are as close to the ‘standard’ Enslaved live experience; almost two hours of epic soundscapes that have been the band’s bread and butter post-2000. Incorporating elements of everything from prog to post-metal and even folk into a blackened core, the sets – recorded at Roadburn and Norway’s Verftet Online Festival respectively – are a primer on Enslaved’s position as one of extreme metal’s most majestic and powerful creative forces.
The one-two punch of Fenris and 793 (Slaget Om Lindisfarne) swings from galloping heaviness to swelling symphonics, demonstrating Enslaved’s sonic diversity. Elsewhere, the mid-section of The Dead Stare in particular taps into black metal’s more ethereal realms, the flashing lights creating a visual disconnect that only strengthens the band’s otherworldly presence. This effect is most prevalent on Below The Lights, the band blasting through the blackened fury of their 2003 release of the same name against a muted black backdrop that heightens the starkness of their sound. The Hawkwind-adjacent abyss-gazing of The Crossing feels like a poetic summation of Enslaved’s creative approach: a lack of pretentiousness aligned with a desire to constantly expand and explore extreme metal’s outer reaches.