Norwegian progressive black avantgardists ENSLAVED will release their new album, "E", on October 13 via Nuclear Blast. The follow-up to 2015's "In Times" was recorded at Duper & Solslottet Studios in Bergen and was once again mixed and mastered by Jens Bogren at Fascination Street Studios in Örebro, Sweden.
The fourth trailer for the disc, in which vocalist, bassist and lyricist Grutle Kjellson talks about the album artwork, can be seen below. Designed again by longtime collaborator Truls Espedal, the artwork was handpainted on canvas.
Grutle remembers: "Seventeen or eighteen years ago, I lived in Stavanger and was introduced to Truls at a pub on a late Saturday evening. We started to discuss album covers from bands like YES or GENESIS and I remember we were both drunk and seemed to disagree a lot on the definition of a cool album cover. So I said to him, 'If you're so clever, why don't you paint the next ENSLAVED cover,' and he said, 'Yeah, count me in.' So I did!"
ENSLAVED recently released the music video for the ten-minute-long single "Storm Son", which blends mesmerizing prog with jarring extreme metal and a folky atmosphere. The clip was designed by Josh Graham, who previously worked with SOUNDGARDEN and NEUROSIS, among others, and delivered a truly spectacular piece of animated art that you can watch below.
"'Storm Son' deals with the duality of man and nature, how important and basic that relationship is," explained ENSLAVED songwriter and guitarist Ivar Bjørnson. "Everything we do and create are imitations of nature; as we evolved from nature, that is how it must be — yet modern man thinks he and she is independent of nature, that we somehow are so superior that we do not have to take nature into consideration other than as a backdrop for shitty movies. Or festivals. Losing touch with nature is basically to lose touch with being human."
A press release states: "This fourteenth full-length masterpiece sets the musical mind-twisters free from genre boundaries and offers an unprecedented mix of prog, extreme metal and shoegaze on eight tracks with a play time of more than an hour.
"The album was once again written by the unholy alliance of Bjørnson and singer and bassist Grutle Kjellson and marks the introduction of their new keyboard master and clean vocalist Håkon Vinje.
"'E' heralds a new era for ENSLAVED. Its cover artwork was once again hand-painted by the Norwegian artist Truls Espedal.
"As support for their brave sound journey, the quintet brought several guest musicians on board for the songs 'Hiindsiight' and 'Feathers Of Eolh', including WARDRUNA's Einar Kvitrafn Selvik, flutist Daniel Mage and jazz saxophonist Kjetil Møster."
Ivar explains the "E" title: "The concept of the album lies in both its meaning as a letter in the latin alphabet and its runic reference: the rune 'Ehwaz', that is depicted as an 'M' when drawn as rune (just to make sure it gets really confusing) — the runes are drawn to look like what they literally mean. Ehwaz (pronounced and used as what's known as E, but drawn as an 'M') looks like and means 'horse.' Which is closely linked to its esoteric meaning; which is 'trust' and 'co-operation.' One of mankind's oldest and deepest pairings/collaborations with any 'outside' entities is with the horse. When they were first tamed and utilized, there must have arisen the notion of some esoteric link between the two; now we could move swiftly, escape faster and even eat and drink from the animal (both horse milk and horse blood), and of course show off and brag before our enemies and peers with the most spectacular horses.
"So, no, it is not about horses! It is about the symbioses that surrounds us; which are vital to our existence, to our development — on all scales: man and vessel (for instance horse, yes), a person and its significant other, child and parent, musician and instrument, chaos and order, subconscious and conscious, Oden and Sleipnir — wisdom and communication. There are many levels and variations of this concept on the album; the duality of man and nature, present and past personalities within one self, the conscious fear and the subconscious drive. And other symbiosis."
"E" is now available for pre-order through Nuclear Blast's online store in a variety of packages, including green and brown vinyl.
"E" track listing
01. Storm Son
02. The River's Mouth
03. Sacred Horse
04. Axis Of The Worlds
05. Feathers Of Eolh
07. Djupet (bonus track)
08. What Else Is There? (RÖYKSOPP cover; bonus track)
"I'm always psyched and proud when we have finished an album recording, and this is no exception!" stated Kjellson. "It was a really exciting process this time, with the lineup change and everything, so although it wasn't a dramatic change, the band dynamics were suddenly different. But, it was like a little re-boot, a fresh start so to speak. The studio sessions were great, and we all feel that we have done something truly amazing. We hope you'll enjoy it. Ugh!"
Bjørnson recently stated about ENSLAVED's new album: "I have never worked this hard to put together music for an album before. We are a tighter unit than ever before, which is obvious sonically. The concept conjured by myself and old war-brother Grutle is the strongest we have worked with. Finally, I am proud that we have taken more risks than ever before, and one in particular — and it is yielding awesome results."