Enslaved on a new musical journey
Enslaved have already recorded a new album and have also signed a record deal with the world’s largest metal label. Lydverket got an exclusive visit to the studio when the band made the finishing touches on their new baby. You can also hear a clip from one of the new songs.
As the first media in the world Lydverket was allowed to be a fat metal fly on the wall when Enslaved were to do the finishing touches before the new album was sent to mixing in Sweden. As I drive toward the small studio Solslottet in Sandviken in Bergen the sky goes crazy. First hot sun, then cold Norwegian snow, and then hard rain seconds after. Sort of like the career of Enslaved. From being an icy extreme-metal band, the group have moved further and further into the warmness of prog rock. Via a series of alcohol-fueled tours around the world.
But now everything is about the so far unnamed album which should be out in October. Guitarist Ivar Peersen and vocalist and bassist Grutle Kjellson is balanced but meticulous when all the little details in the music is checked. Grutle takes care of listening, while Ivar is talking to me.
- Now we have to splice together the two processes that are recording and mixing. The last months we have gathered different tracks and recordings of different instruments. Most of the record have been made in Duper Studios where the main tracks was recorded, but we’ve been around in various studios and home studios where we’ve recorded solo-guitars, keyboards and vocals and such. So now we’re simply fixing the last bits to get the album ready for the mixing. Some places we have tried things that were not successful, and then we simply fix that, or maybe we notice that there’s some castanets missing. As we found out a couple of hours ago. So then we headed out here and played some castanets.
There are castanets on the album?
- For Enslaved there is a shocking lot of castanets on the record. There’s a total of eight castanets, and that’s a dramatic increase compared to our previous eleven records. Haha.
Check out “Ethica Odini” from Enslaved’s last album:
Enslaved is amiable and plays a finished song for me. A long and great proggy tune that has not yet been named. Grutle’s vocals sounds like it was recorded underwater, growly like a Grizzly, while the beautiful vocals of Herbrand Larsen gives the song a flavor of the last Enslaved album Axioma Ethica Odini. Heavy and catchy. Ugly and beautiful. It’s time to ask about musical direction this time around. Enslaved have in recent years become less and less extreme, but then again more exploratory.
- We’ve given more space to it all this time around. More space to the melodic stuff, more space to the prog flavor and ’70s-inspiration, there are glimpses of some doom, some good Voivod-style thrash, some cool guitar solos. All the little things that we like we have provided even more room for. It’s the “more is more”-philosophy. We’ve given up on the structural stuff once and for all. It’s not for us. So there’s not much verse-chorus-verse on the new record. We have tried a few places, but no one even hears that it is an attempt at a chorus. Haha.
Some bands go into the studio and do everything in seven days, and it can sound a little dirty and that’s intended. But you work in a completely different way. Is making a record a kind of jigsaw puzzle for you?
- We keep on for months and months and it still sounds like shit. Haha. It’s a little like a puzzle, yeah. It’s a mixture. It’s the strange Enslaved-mixture of rock and prog. We started out doing the songs live in the studio, and did all the songs that way. As such, it’s maybe a bit less perfectionist than before. We left some of the wobbly sounds that occur in the live setting to retain a bit of nerve, but then we have added a lot afterwards, and that is when it becomes a little like a puzzle.
- We have not pondered so much this time around. It has been more of a band feeling again doing this record. We’ve tried to forget some of the opportunities that computers and Pro Tools provides. This time we’ve used Iver Sandøy on the production team, who previously worked with us as engineer, and has challenged us a little. He comes fra a metal background, but has also worked with pop and rock, and has a slightly different approach. So there has been a little more discussion this time around than we’re used to.
You say discussion. Even some arguing?
- Yes, there have been a few heated arguments. Iver called some of my ideas “Richard Clayderman-shit”, and I’ve probably called some of Herbrand’s ideas “something that little girls would have thought of”, so we’ve been there too. But we try to be a bit civilized. The discussion stuff is so new to us, so we’ve had to have a few rules along the way. It is not allowed to call others “Richard Clayderman”, for example … Haha.
Listen to a clip from a brand new and yet nameless track from the upcoming album:
This Enslaved recording has been a little secret because the Norwegians have signed a contract with the world’s largest metal label Nuclear Blast.
- The new deal aren’t going to change the band. We’re not a type of band that a label can shape and change. We’re not very flexible that way. For better or worse. But what’s interesting with Nuclear Blast is the muscles they have. We’ve come to the point where there are many who have heard of Enslaved, and who would like to get more into it, both on record and live, but we don’t seem to reach all of those people. With Nuclear Blast we can maybe reach places like Asia, Australia and the United States more than we have done in the past. It is another type of label. It’s maybe more like an assembly line, but they still have the passion and enthusiasm that you find at smaller companies. Right now we are keen to see how we can succeed in the large machinery.
- If we could move from 250 to 400 capacity clubs in the U.S. to 600-1000, that’s definitely a goal reached. Getting just a little bit bigger, so that we can do a bigger production at our shows. Do something more with the lights and shoot salmon on the audience with cannons and stuff … Haha.
Enslaved could have had a closet full of Grammys at home, but instead they’ve given their Norwegian Grammys to the local bar Garage. In fact, Enslaved received a Norwegian Grammy for all of their last four releases. A tremendous achievement, but do they feel accepted by the mainstream at home?
- Yes, I think so. There is some recognition in the prices we have received. The Spellemann (Grammys) is an institution in Norwegian music. But it’s maybe providing a bit of an oversimplified picture. We get some recognition because of those prices, but you simply do not know how random it is that we got those. But yes, we are probably a bit more mainstream than other metal bands, but that’s ok with us.
It’s time to let Ivar Peersen listen even more to the recorded music. The upcoming album will now be sent to Fascination Street Studios in Sweden where everything will be completed. Ivar is a hundred percent sure that they have made the best record they could.
- I am very pleased with this album, and this is really the worst phase, it is now I’m starting to get the feel of the record, and it is now I would have discovered choices that may not have been optimal, but when I hear that things are working, everything is incredibly liberating. I have never had such a good feeling about a record beforehand. I’ve been pretty sure about the music during the last couple of weeks.
The next Enslaved album should be out this fall, most likely in October.