Unlike a lot of bands who made the leap from metal to more progressive climes, there’s never a sense that Enslaved’s live shows are eschewing their heavier roots in favour of their more contemporary experimental fare.
Following the success of In Times, released earlier this year to acclaim from both the metal and prog communities, the band would have every right to lean exclusively on their more diverse output. Rather, Enslaved draw deeply from their entire back catalogue, not in an attempt to please black metal purists, but to show the lineage of influence and exploration that has defined their career.
But this venue proves to be a difficult adversary for the progressively minded. It’s a fine enough space for main support Grand Magus’ chunky riffs, but Enslaved’s barbaric, mesmerising licks get lost beneath the overhanging balcony.
The opening barrage of stormer Thurisaz Dreaming nonetheless goes off like a herd of rampaging giants. Herbrand Larsen’s clean vocals, which punch through the miasma about two minutes into the song, have proved to be one of the greatest boons to the Enslaved of recent years, and time and again tonight they provide a sweet alternative to Grutle Kjellson’s savage croak.
However, Kjellson isn’t to be outdone. When he’s not titillating the crowd with self-deprecating banter, he’s drawing on resources that put other black metal vocalists to shame. When he growls that ‘Wisdom and Chaos must unite’ in Fusion Of Sense And Earth, the sound reverberates to the pit of your bowels.
The mid-set three-punch of Eastern-tinged homage to chaos Ruun, Ethica Odini and The Watcher, while not utterly unexpected, is spellbinding and soon sees the crowd tearing itself to tatters. Even the left-field choice of Convoys To Nothingness, taken from the daring Monumension album, is well-received, although Kjellson laughingly admits to the crowd that they probably “don’t want to hear this one”.
It’s perhaps the inclusion of this song in the set, picked above any number of fan favourites, that demonstrates Enslaved’s commitment to their varied, brilliant past.