Vikingligr Veldi

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Released in 1994 via the recently deceased Euronymous' Deathlike Silence label, Enslaved's five-song full-length debut, Vikingligr Veldi, followed fast upon the previous years' seminal split with Emperor, Hordanes Land, and proved that, along with their fellow countrymen, Enslaved were ready to carry on the torch of Norwegian black metal beyond the shocking demise of its original ringleader. Significantly, Enslaved's calling was to create Viking metal devoted to retelling Norway's legends and traditions of old -- not attacking Christianity by means of its own creation: Satan. Makes sense, doesn't it? What's more, all lyrics were scripted in either ancient forms of Norwegian or Icelandic (!), with many melodies being borrowed from ethnic Scandinavian folk music to lend additional authenticity to the vicious, fast-paced black metal, which naturally comprised the bulk of Vikingligr Veldi's sonic makeup. Epic in the extreme, all but one of its five cuts eclipse the ten-minute mark (that being the singularly brutal "Heimdallr" -- a paean to the golden-toothed Norse god of light), with opener "Lifandi Liv Undir Hamri" admittedly overstaying its welcome somewhat due to an increasingly irksome synthesizer loop. The ensuing "Vetrarnótt" narrowly avoids the same fate thanks to a wider variety of guitar melodies to counter the repetitious riffing cycles at hand, and the Tolkien-bordering "Midgards Eldar" (he, too, took inspiration from Norse source materials for his mythology of Middle Earth) benefits from the slow-building grandeur of its intro and the unexpected insertion of space-age synth bleeps and squeaks into its midsection. Closing instrumental "Norvegr" is a little harder to defend, but is definitely no stinker, and certainly brings a less violent, more contemplative finale to an album that stands the test of time, for the most part, and remains of crucial importance to the black metal genre.

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