Enslaved - Monumension
Osmose Productions
Black/Viking Metal
10 songs (59:34)
Release year: 2001
Enslaved, Osmose Productions
Reviewed by Thomas
Archive review

2008 was a year in the sign of Enslaved. They unleashed their best effort to date upon us with Vertebrae which easily will top a few of the reviewer’s top 15 lists. Enslaved’s discography is probably one of the most diverse and varied you’ll likely to find, especially within black metal. They have been experimenting since day one, never staying in the same field. With bassist/vocalist Grutle Kjellsson’s own words: `It’s like everyone in the band has a hold of the outer end of a circle. We’re constantly expanding it all as one`. Well said, as this is exactly what they’ve done during their years as one of the best bands in this hellish scene. Monumension gives us the very taste of how the band was experimenting after the definitive beginning of it all Mardraum – Beyond the Within. Which, for the record, met mixed criticism. Considering the line-up was slightly different, the influences varied from the grimmest of black metal to the prog we reckon them by today and even to some stoner stuff they luckily gave up.

To get this in its entirety, you should pay complete and utter attention. There is no deeper meaning to the music whatsoever in terms of technicality, but it covers a wide field of specters which will demand your patience. The opener Convoys to Nothingness starts out with fairly chorus-laden guitars before it blasts out at full speed. If that is what you’re expecting all the way through, then reboot your mind and get ready for even some highly atmospheric and clean stuff in the vein of Sigur Ròs and company. Hollow Inside is a strange track indeed, and doesn’t completely fit, but is still compelling enough. Trygve Mathiesen (Nekropolis) lends them his depressive vocal chords which fulfils the mood the band are trying to create. This is an effective album with an eager use of various synth-sounds and even some vocoder. Sometimes exciting, sometimes in the wrong place at the wrong time. Kjellsson’s brutal croaks are much deeper than on later releases, and the clean vocals are not as apparent here, yet still a certain factor.

Monumension is a little unpredictable since you never know when it’s going to change tempo and blast out full-speed in chaotic shapes and motions before it just as suddenly slows it all down again. This may sound messy, but as they’ve shown on later releases, they’re definitely good at it and this is no exception. The moody and shape-shifting The Chromlech Gate is a natural example on this. Grutle’s vocals changes between monotonous clean vocals, roaring deep growls, and grinding haunting shrieks. The chaotic outbursts are always surprisingly well executed, and the rhythm work and riffing is always steady as a mountain. Enemy I is also experimental, but has some parts the black metal-enthusiasts among you will definitely appreciate. Grutle once again varies his vocal approach, and his clean spoken vocals are as haunting as ever and strikingly powerful. Smirr takes the same approach and I got to admit that Richard Kronheim knows his way around a guitar-solo. He’s gotten much crap for his songwriting on this album, and although it’s maybe a little different, it’s certainly not as bad as people state. His guitar-solos are also catchy and very impressively. His tone is thick and almost rocky and incredibly strong which spices things up a great deal.

The most audible nod you’ll find to Isa or even Ruun here, must be the second track, The Voices. The riffs are black metal, while the chords they use and the breakdowns are more or less taking the progressive direction we all have grown so incredibly fond of. If you’re all worried about not getting your desired dose of black metal though, know that there is plenty of top notch black metal put on here. Vision: Sphere of the Elements the mentioned Convoys to Nothingness and Smirr are all something you corpse-painted Vikings should embrace. I’m not sure you’ll like this if you’re not into the experimental stuff. This does contain some moments that spawned their later style, and some moments that they righteously threw away. All in all a highly enjoyable release that every Enslaved -fan should listen to. Or should I say experience?

Killing Songs :
Convoys to Nothigness, The Voices, Vision: Sphere of the Elements - A Monument pt. II, Hollow Inside, Smirr
Thomas quoted 80 / 100
Other albums by Enslaved that we have reviewed:
Enslaved - Utgard reviewed by Goat and quoted 82 / 100
Enslaved - E reviewed by Goat and quoted 75 / 100
Enslaved - In Times reviewed by Goat and quoted 93 / 100
Enslaved - RIITIIR reviewed by Thomas and quoted 92 / 100
Enslaved - Axioma Ethica Odini reviewed by Goat and quoted 92 / 100
To see all 13 reviews click here
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