Enslaved
Caravans to the Outer World EP

There are quite a few things I wish I could go back and change about last year. I’m sure most of us feel the same way considering what a shitball year it was, and still continues to be in a lot of ways. Though one of the simplest things I would change would be regulating Enslaved‘s Utgard album from my honorable mentions to my top ten in my year end list. For whatever reason the album didn’t stick with me initially, though having revisisted said album many times during the past year, I can honestly say that I must have had my head up my ass, because Utgard is simply stellar. In fact the older I get the more Enslaved climbs the ladder of my favorite bands.

In case you missed it, the band has just recently released a four song EP entitled Caravans to the Outer World, and if you did miss it I could undertsand why, as the band has also just recently released four smatterings of live releases. I get not resting on your laurels, but that kind of prolificness is more than a damn bit impressive. If you liked what was going on with the sounds of Utgard then you will definitely be satisfied with Caravans…Yeah, there’s only four tracks, two of which are instrumentals, so your’e not getting a massive amount of jams, but what you do get is extremely worth it.

A little wind and bass start things out on the EP’s title track, mixing quietly with synths and some “light” guitar before the track explodes out into a nice ripping form of 21st century Enslaved. While the track is a bit more straightforward and aggressive, there are still ample amounts of what makes Enslaved well, Enslaved. Familiar riffing melds with Grutle’s blackened rasp nicely, as the song’s main riff gets stuck in your head. Throw in some great soloing and some well placed blasts behind some clean crooning and “Caravans to the Outer Worlds” really takes on a life of its own.

Fading right into “Intermezzo I – Lӧnnlig. Gudlig”, we get some trippy/proggy key-work paired with a simple accent riff and a halftime rolling snare fill before the track finds itself in proper full on band form half way in. Becoming guitar dominant, the drums and bass move along with the guitars in a simple mid-tempo half jam, half exorcism relief. While not an intense track by any means, it still manages to crush in that relieving feeling it provides. Up next we get a bonafide sequel track with “Ruun II – The Epitaph” and if truth be told, I may just like this track better than its orginal namesake. Progressive strumming and synths combine in a build up of Melechesh flavored proportions while some terrific clean vocals help in the feeling of something ready to explode forth at any moment. The song finally “breaks” around the 4:00 minute mark, but in a massively subdued way, becoming laid back and almost meditative in its presentation.

Closing out this brief affair is “Intermezzo II – The Navigator”, beginning with a prog infused awesomeness, the song breaks into a simple driving little riff about a minute in, while some psychedelic-isms of keyes and frets begin to swirl the ears and the mind’s eye as well, before fading out all too early leaving just a twinge of not being fully satisfied, and while that kind of irks me a bit, it also leaves me anticipating their next ventures even that much more. All in all, this four song EP doesn’t really help or hurt the namesake that is Enslaved. The fact is if you dig the band, then you’ll enjoy this. If you don’t, you won’t. But lets be honest, how can someone not like this band?

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Kristofor Allred
October 28th, 2021

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