Enslaved: From The Ashes & The Flames

"We aren't all murderers and arsonists"

Born in the ashes of charred churches and unstable faith, the law of Satanism was burning bright in Norway in 1991 one monument that has stood the test of time and the grating stigma of Norwegian Black Metal were a band called Enslaved – still prevailing today. The mastermind behind the group; Grutle admits that the events of the early 90’s have impacted on the band both negatively and positively and shares the longevity of Enslaved with Metal As Fuck…. “The day has only just started - can you tell me something fascinating about the future Carrie? This is the playful mood we found Grutle in…. Can you tell us about what’s been going over the past 12 months for Enslaved? “Summer has been great, we’ve been travelling, playing a lot of festivals, losing luggage. It has been hot, so it has been great to come back to Norway - 13 degrees and rain. I am not very good with heat; I am not constructed for hot weather”. [Laughs]

Enslaved are a fusion of progressive rock and Nordic extreme metal elements – the Nordic Extreme Metal; what characteristics separates Norwegian Black Metal to say those of the American or Swedish counterparts? “Norwegian Extreme Metal is very different from the Swedish scene, even though so close in proximity – most of the Swedish bands, no matter what genre they play in layer melodic elements to their music. No matter the style it all sounds like jolly melodies - I really don’t know why [Laughs] it’s the opposite in Norway, maybe it has something to do with the climate, it’s a little harsher, it rains a lot, it’s dark and grim [Laughs] Sweden is a stable climate, Norway is a pile of rocks, the rain, its freezing – it’s depressing. It’s very self-ironic and fucked up but it’s an ever changing climate. The seasons are not very stable – the people are not very stable [Laughs] maybe this is the reason and also the fact that Norway was a very poor country for many years until the discovery of oil in the 70’s. I remember as a child, Norway was among some of the poorest countries in Europe, very different to now days [Laughs] we didn’t have the same musical traditions, it was always…. Weird. The scene was smaller we didn’t have the input like they did in Sweden and the states, there are a lot of factors”. It’s fair to say that Norwegian Black Metal is definitely a product of your environment? “Definitely, though back in the early days – the contemporary bands; before the explosion, it was still very underground, very small and very spread out and of course still being developed”.   Enslaved have had a long standing in the Norwegian Black Metal movement, coming up around the early 90’s, the most infamous period for Black Metal – do you see that this was a hindrance for the style at the time or in fact a propellant? “I guess both. Because suddenly everyone knew about Norwegian Black Metal so at the time it was probably hard enough being a Norwegian band in general getting a record deal. The events that happened became a label for the music, and it still sticks to Norwegian music to this day – it was really an ambivalent thing especially in Norway because no one focused on the actual music until say 2000-2001 until people; the media actually listened harder and heard the lyrics behind it and realised there was some actual fucking talent there – that we weren’t all just murderers and arsonists. The really ironic thing was that there was only a very small group committing those crimes and the rest were honest musicians like ourselves so yes it can be really frustrating at times – working your arse off to be a serious band only to get the feedback ‘so tell us about the church burnings’ and at the same time in Norway there was somewhat of a purist war going on. You were either labeled as a Satanist or a biker and either way the public were willing to beat you up, so there was a lot of fights, it was crazy times really”. [Laughs]

It has been previously mentioned by the band that you feel a strong connection to those early days of Enslaved and everything that was going on, so how have those times helped shape what the band are today? “A lot, because we are now among the veterans of the scene and perhaps the only band that has continued. The only band that have been steady since 1991 and we were completely steady along the way. And that is a very comforting thing – being able to stick together through all of it, that has to be a sign for something I guess. We are obviously insane to be together for so long [Laughs] maybe that’s a good thing in music anyway; a little insanity and acknowledgement of the concept of insanity”. Each album from Enslaved has been noted for its shift in approach and overall diversity so I am curious as to how you approach writing for the band as each new album presents all these new avenues “Well it’s really not that complicated as we have always had the philosophy that we want to develop. We want to constantly open up the horizons and by no means repeat ourselves. We are constantly looking for new things to listen to. So obviously what you’ve been listening to since the last recording is participating in colouring the next attempt to make a new album – we constantly have new input and truly hate repeating ourselves, I mean we have ACDC for that [Laughs] it’s not a negative thing for those bands, it sounds great but it’s not for everyone”.  The fusion of the styles used by Enslaved; the Black Metal and the Progressive – what challenges do you like to throw at one another when writing and composing? “It’s not as such putting challenges on one another as we are all synchronized when it comes to music and lyrics and its very rarely we will disagree when incorporating riffs – we are trusting one another to come up with ideas and even if we don’t really appreciate the ideas from one another we will hear them and trust each other enough to know that it will turn out very cool in the end and that’s how it works; respect”.

It seems to be a winning formula, a 25 year winning formula, holy shit Grutle that is the insanity you were talking about [Laughs] “It is pretty insane but it doesn’t feel like 25 years. It is pretty hard to believe that I have been doing this for the entirety of my adult life; it’s too late to turn around now. At 17 I couldn’t picture myself being in the same band at the age of 42 – at the age of 42 I can’t picture myself doing this for another 25 years so I guess my mindset hasn’t changed [Laughs] when we perform on stage though it still feels like 1991 – we have the same energy and hunger…  Some things have changed, some things will never change”.  

Enslaved will be hitting the stages soon, with a surprise Australian tour, thanks for that Pal “Well, you’re welcome although the travelling…. It is a nightmare to get down there because it is so far away [Laughs]. We love coming down to Australia we always have such a great time – the last time we had some great days; great audiences and a great atmosphere, the moshpits especially…  You guys are crazy cunts, some of the craziest”.

ENSLAVED AUSTRALIAN TOUR DATES 2016 

Wednesday 5th October - Crow Bar, Brisbane

Thursday 6th October - Prince Bandroom, Melbourne

Friday 7th October - Manning Bar, Sydney