Enslaved was formed in 1992 in Haugesund, Norway, with an earlier
incarnation of the band featuring none other than Hein Frode Hansen,
who left to form
Theatre Of Tragedy.
Eventually they attracted the attention of Euronymous
who signed the band to his Deathlike Silence label.
That label was set to release the debut album, Vikingligr Veldi,
but the chaos that ensued following Euronymous' death prevented
that, and Voices Of Wonder eventually released that album, with
the band later signing to Osmose, the band staying on that
label for several years before a recent switch to Tabu.
Though the band prefers the label "Viking Metal", Enslaved is
very much a black metal band in musical style, if not in spirit.
Enslaved is somewhat of a paradox -- a listen to any of their
earlier albums (such as personal favorite Frost) reveals all the
classic trademarks of early black metal -- the vocal stylings, the
insane blast beats, that distinctive black metal guitar style --
and yet Enslaved somehow makes it original and distinctive enough
so that only Enslaved could perform it.
Part of this might be due to the guitar work, as it has that faintly
dischordant style that occasionally reminds one of Denis D'Amour of
(indeed, several sections of the Mardraum album are of
the "what if Voivod played black metal" variety), and part of it
might simply be that Enslaved is less derivative and more
innovative than their contemporaries.
The newer albums such as Mardraum
and Monumension show
a true expansion of their sound,
incorporating new and varied influences into the mix without
detracting from their past.