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jools green
5th September 2017
Words: Jools Green, Picture: Sam 'Hagrid' McDowall


Bergen's Beyond The Gates: Bjørgvin Black Mass three day festival this year featured a pretty impressive line-up that included Cult Of Fire, Dark Sonority, MGŁA, Exciter, Master's Hammer and Mayhem to name a few but my main reason for being there was to see Norwegian progressive extreme Metallers Enslaved.

I've seen them live on a considerable number of occasions but the big difference between those times and this was the first, and never to be repeated, performance of their debut 1994 full length, 'Vikingligr Veldi', in its entirety. Some of the tracks have been performed live before but never the whole album with 'Miðgarðs elder' getting its first ever live airing.

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'Vikingligr Veldi' is a good album and stands the test of time, even for fans of their more recent progressive releases. I went with the intention of just enjoying an iconic album performed live but was in no way prepared for the excellence of this live delivery, truly brought to life in the most breathtaking of manners, delivered with power, passion and vibrant, dynamic energy.

With a line-up these days of five including new keyboard player and vocalist Hakon Vinje, 'Vikingligr Veldi' was originally recorded when Enslaved were just a trio; the two original members, Ivar Bjornson and Grutle Kjellson along with Trym Torson on drums, so much of the extra impact comes from this extended line-up, particularly the addition of Arve Isdal bulking out the guitars.

The only minor disappointment was the absence of the current drummer Cato Bekkevold who was sadly unavailable but drum duties were well executed instead by Iver Sandøy, who has been involved in the production/engineering of many of the recent albums as well as other Enslaved related projects. He has an excellent stage presence and his hard hitting battery added a great deal to the overall performance.

Right from the opening haunting keyboards and the dirty blackened riffing of 'Lifandi liv undir hamri', which was so chillingly good it made the hair on the back of the neck stand on end, Enslaved had the audience worked into a frenzy of excitement, a state maintained across the entirety of the set.

To say that this performance was a success is an understatement and I will listen to the original album in future with a fresh set of ears. It certainly offered something for both the old school Black Metal purist as well as the more recent progressive material fans and even least favourite track of the album, 'Heimdallr', (it's good, just not as great as the others) came across in a new and positive light.

The potential good news for anyone unable to attend this monumental occasion is that the performance was recorded so hopefully it will be released as either a DVD or live album.

Lifandi liv undir hamri
Miðgarðs elder





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