RIITIIR, the devastating twelfth studio album from the mighty Enslaved of Norway was easily the best metal release of 2012. Complex, stunning, and innovative, the masters had created a vastly extraordinary effort. Now in LA on a cold and rainy night (apparently bringing their infamous Scandinavian weather with them), it was surely worth it to brave the elements of nature to see Enslaved perform. Having played The Troubadour a few years prior, Enslaved returned to the scene of the crime for their Winter Rite Tour, and the venue was fully packed to the rafters and beyond. After a few varied and interesting opening acts, it was time for the main attraction, and Enslaved unleashed nothing short of a mesmerizing performance.
Opening with the glorious title track from RIITIIR, Enslaved instantly demonstrated that they can indeed pull off the sonic complexities of their songs with a skilled precision. Other highlights from their current masterwork included the grand Roots Of The Mountain and the dazzling Materal. Older material was also on display and the crowd responded with an ardent fervor to cuts such as the shimmering Ruun, the icy Conveys To Nothingness, and the wondrously epic reveries of As Fire Swept Clean The Earth.
Wildly charismatic front man Grutle Kjellson growls the compelling lyrics with a ferocious magnetism and plays a bass that will pulsate throughout your system. The guitar work is sheer magnificence, as imaginatively performed by Ivar Bjørnson and Arve “Ice Dale” Isdal. Although keyboardist Herbrand Larsen was placed a bit to the side of the proceedings, his ominous keyboard work and striking clean vocals reverberated magically throughout the venerable establishment. And then driving it all home with a staggering vengeance was Cato Bekkevold on drums. Enslaved may have been formed in 1991, but over 20 years later and with two original members still in tow (Cato joined in 1993, so he could pretty much be counted as OG too), the band continues to perform with passion and conviction.
Speaking of the grand and glorious past, towards the end of their set, Enslaved unleashed a rocking version of Immigrant Song by Led Zeppelin. A memorable night at a legendary establishment by an equally iconic band – one that will be revered by the fans in attendance for the metal ages to come. Be sure to catch Enslaved the next time they come to pillage your town – and expect to see the collective back here in the States before the end of the year.
(Review by Kenneth Morton – Photo by Dave from Montebello)
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