Melbourne’s iconic beachside suburb of St. Kilda may not be the most obvious place for blistering, Norwegian black metal, but tonight, inside the historic Prince Bandroom, Enslaved celebrated their 25th Anniversary with a career spanning setlist, chosen in part by a select group of Australian fans.
Kicking off the evening’s proceedings and filling the night’s only support slot, is Melbourne’s own, KING, who recently released their stellar debut album, Reclaim the Darkness. KING play melodic black metal with a driving hard rock edge, ripping through a six-song set made up entirely of songs from their debut, and sounding damn good doing so, never suffering from the all to common “support sound”. The ferocious, breakneck gallop of All in Black, and the memorable scream/chant along chorus of album closer, One World One King, were particular highlights, inspiring head bangs and windmills aplenty.
Unfortunately, the crowd was spread relatively thin for KING, and for the most part rather still, despite frontman, Tony Forde‘s, continued attempts to illicit more of a response. Fortunately, however, the crowd did thicken towards the end of their set, which is always a good sign as to the quality of a band’s performance.
Then, after what felt like no time at all, everything went black, and the now packed Prince Bandroom began to hum with excitement and anticipation. Smoke crept onto the stage and into the air, and one by one, each of Enslaved’s five members made their way onstage, backed by the atmospheric introduction to their 1994 classic second album, Frost. Immediately following the intros final note, Enslaved burst into their first set of the evening, comprised entirely of early material, each song taken from a record released between 1992 and 2001; and what a highlight-strewn set it was.
Loke set the room ablaze with an onslaught of icy, black metal riffs that cascaded from the stage like an avalanche of Viking fury. Frontman, Grutle Kjellson, put a smile on every visible face in the tracks closing moments, when his bloodcurdling wretched vocal transformed into maniacal laughter. Convoys to Nothingness‘ final two and half minutes had a similar effect, with friends and strangers alike turning to one another and nodding with an almost telepathic understanding, an understanding that they were witnessing something special.
The outro was played with such power and majesty, that I felt each note vibrate up through the soles of my feet and barrel into my chest. They even wheeled out Slaget I Skogen Bortenfor, a track that first saw the light of day on a 1992 demo, before reappearing on their 1993 EP, Hordanes Land.
After a short interlude, Enslaved returned for a second set, followed by a two-song encore. This set saw Enslaved drawing from material released after 2001’s, Monumension, when the band expanded their sound further into progressive, more experimental territories. They opened this second chapter with RIITIIR rager, Roots of the Mountain, a nine-minute opus of monolithic, progressive black metal, that illustrated Enslaved’s ability to execute multiple genres with ease.
The intelligent bass work of Kjellson was brought to the fore on the title track of their 2006 album Ruun, where his bass occasionally took control, guiding the song with thick, grooving leads. Four of the remaining five songs were lifted from what clearly remains a crowd favourite, 2003’s, Below the Lights, with Isa and As Fire Swept Clean the Earth closing the show in an epic, magical fashion. The only downside being that there was no appearance from 2008’s stunning, Vertebrae, or last years incredible, In Times.
In the end, though, omissions from the setlist mean very little when everything that was played was performed with near-perfect precision. There’s a reason Enslaved are still laying waste to venues after 25 years, and tonight was a prime example of that.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column]