Enslaved - Troubadour - 2/8/2013
By the time Enslaved came on, there was more than a little anticipatory electricity in the crowd. They took the stage with the roar of the hosts of battle, quite the contrast from the sound, appearance and energy of the undercard. The crowd screamed a greeting in lockstep unison as Enslaved threw their horns to the audience. This progressive black metal band (emphasis on the progressive) from Norway had no gauntlets, spikes or pigs' heads to provide additional effect. They did, however, have a keyboard player who looks like he should be driving the Mystery Machine.
They opened with "Thoughts Like Hammers," the lead track off their new album, RIITIIR. It was a perfect way to display their musical virtuosity and strange, sometimes jarring mix of screeched and clean vocals. Their encore included "Isa" from the 2004 album of the same name, an atmospheric piece that no doubt has spawned a score or two of post-metal and depressive black metal bands.
There was heaviness and brutality, of course, but it's the keyboard that does it; not only did it provide their sound with a more nuanced complexity, it also provided a connection to the other bands and their throwback sounds. Enslaved aren't black metal for stoners as such, but they are black metal for people who like a catchy riff and a good melody.
The Crowd: Lifers
Random Notebook Dump: I had a bang up good time trying to help a bunch of aspiring desert rockers choose a name in the VIP. Fellas, if you're reading this, I'm telling you: Go with Bone!