Enslaved have gone more prog than ever and they're not looking back
They’ve already travelled a long way from their metal origins, and now Enslaved are changing their sound again with their none-more-prog 14th studio album. Guitarist Ivar Bjørnson reveals all
Make a note of the year 2043, because that’s when Enslaved are planning to end it all.
“We’re looking at being in this band for another 26 years,” explains the group’s guitarist and co-founder Ivar Bjørnson. “It does sound daft when you put it like that, but we all just believe that’s when Enslaved will come to a natural conclusion. What that means in terms of albums, I’m not sure. When we get to within five or 10 years of that point, we’ll probably go mental and release a 12-LP box set!”
The Norwegian band, who formed in 1991 – which means by the time they finish, they will have made it beyond their 50th anniversary – have just begun a new thematic cycle with the album E. It takes them into territory that’s philosophically very different from what has been at the core of their previous few albums.
Ever since Vertebrae in 2008, Enslaved have explored the individuality of the human condition on a series of records that have been challenging and linked through a fascination with the darker side of life. Now, however, the band are reaching towards a very different concept. Instead of looking at people as being isolated, with all the subsequent problems that arise from this, they’re examining how people interact with one another.
“Yes, it is a more positive spin,” muses Bjørnson. “And at a time when so many other bands are going towards the dark side, it may seem odd for us to be moving the other way. But things like that never bother us. It’s almost typical of us to go against the trend!”
Enslaved are not a band with a far-reaching vision of where they should be going musically and lyrically. The fact that their last album In Times (2015) was to be the final instalment of their previous thematic cycle wasn’t actually planned out in advance.
“When we did that album, none of us were sure if it might be the end of that era for us,” admits Bjørnson. “It only became obvious when we went out and toured. Then we understood that we had come to the end of that path.”
In their normal fashion, it didn’t become clear to them where to go next until they had written the first song for E.