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In true Enslaved fashion, the Bergen voyagers’ 16th album, “Heimdal”, is both a departure and a communion with roots forged over three decades ago in the turbulent birth throes of Norway’s black metal scene. Founded in 1991 by the then precociously young Ivar Bjørnson and Grutle Kjellson, Enslaved were determined to set out on a different course from their Satanic, church-burning peers, turning their attention towards Viking lore and writing the majority of the lyrics for their 1994 debut album, “Vikingligr Veldi“, in Icelandic for its proximity to Old Norse.
“Heimdal” is named after arguably the most mysterious entity in Nordic mythology. Most famously known as the gatekeeper between the nine Norse realms, he’s a source of constant speculation, as scholars continue to offer new interpretations of his origins, and his purpose.
“It’s the weirdest concept,” says Ivar. “I’m not sure entirely what we’ve done on this album, but I was pulled towards Heimdal mythos from very early on. ‘Heimdallr’ was one of the first songs we ever wrote for Enslaved, and it was an entry point for us into the world of Norse mythology. There are contradictions in who are his parents, and there are wonderful theories that he could be Odin. There’s one theory I found particularly interesting, and a lot of the album is based on this, that after the Ragnarok that is coming, he will be the new main god after Odin. And this leads to all kinds of further speculation. So instead of taking a concept and a framework and filling it in, this is more like going down a rabbit hole. We’re chasing all these ideas that we just started with, and are still fascinated by.