Atmosphere within a record is everything, the shape of the tonality that strikes continuously throughout is the passageway into the artist’s creative mind. Whether from frozen inspiration or the underlying dark waters that surround the listener, Frost from Enslaved is a call back to 1994 where determining ability in black metal was at a forefront for the period.
After a building synth and chime combination on the self-titled track “Frost”, Enslaved quickly moves forward a motion into “Loke”. The Norwegian group are precisely battling from the jump with a line-up of criminal guitars, percussion, and bass rips that dive into those waters that lay under the icy surface. Frost is not entirely a hellish ride however, there are moments of reprieve that come in the form of electronic sounds and landscapes that play from Ivar Bjørnson. He battles along with Trym Torson on the percussion which finally moves Grutle Kjellson on the vocals, bass, and mouth harp into the frame as the frontrunner for the aggression.
There has always been a deep obsession within the inner darkness that man can create and display through an art style, on Frost, the manipulation comes in the form of co-dependence on the illicit strings and performance from Enslaved. The name alone strikes a tingling feeling in the spine as they move from shouting matches to calm and gentle waves. “Svarte Vidder” is a bum-rush which bursts through the seams as a blitzing assault toward the listener. Then progressively battling with these syndicated church-esque vocals that shine through the almost demented demeanor that Enslaved brings to the table.
They continue to set fires to the land as they push toward a relentless chord structure that bounces from syncopated string rhythms to then stone cold walls of sound. In any rate, Frost is a progressive push toward this almost sporadic sense of boundary where Enslaved can punish through consistent hostility. They do finally show on “Yggdrasil” that Frost can be approached almost as if it was a sleeping predator. The breaks in the action resemble this hibernating period where Enslaved slows, using more acoustic instrumentalist style before then pushes back into the onslaught.
Bad omens pulverize and shake Frost into this submissive state where “Wotan” brings up as one of the final tracks before fading into the blackened woods. A lit torch seems to carry the way for the listener on “Wotan” before realizing that Enslaved is simply a master trapper in the field. They build through “Gylfagrinning”, a previous track which leads down into the calming nature. “Wotan” then forms the hammer and anvil tactic to frame and begins to set a barrier against the listener which compresses until the final breath is drawn.
Frost is a 50-minute journey that encases the mid-90’s black metal scene into a single capsule. The record is digestible but requires patience as the vocals and instrumentation comes down as a mighty hammer, delivering a crushing blow at each strike.