1994 Osmose Productions
Released in 1994, that year of black metal history which also unleashed Mayhem's De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, Emperor's In the Nightside Eclipse and Darkthrone's Transilvanian Hunger, among others, Frost is Enslaved's second album, and arguably their best. While later releases like Eld would focus on the warrior aspect of the Viking culture, Frost is pretty much all about the folklore and mythology of the Scandinavian people. With song titles like "Loke", "Fenris" and "Yggdrasil" you'll know what I mean.
It begins with one of the most atmospheric introductions I've heard, which conjures up the very image of "Frost", as it's titled. It builds up into the first song "Loke", which also happens to be one of the oldest songs by the band. It is one of their best songs, with a lot of atmosphere, and some excellent riffs and dynamics. Nearly all the songs on here drip with atmosphere, sometimes dreaming, other times brutal and razor edged, displaying the band's black metal roots. Taking a que from Hammerheart and Twilight of the Gods era Bathory they seamlessly combine acoustic guitars with heavily distorted guitars, while not falling into the same sound that melodic bands like Dissection had. The use of keyboards also astounds. Having previously heard Ivar Bjornson's work on the first Borknagar album, I have been aware of Ivar's talent at creating beautiful atmospheric sounds with his keyboards. He is also incredible at his guitar, providing some complex and interesting riffs. Trym, who would later go on to spend much time in Emperor after Bard Faust was put in jail, provides his talents onto here as well, however he doesn't over do his blast beats and double bass as he would in Emperor. Grutle Kjellson as always provides amazing vocals and lyrics, and his bass isn't anything to scoff at either.
The lyrics (provided as both their original Norwegian and in English) are perhaps one of the best parts of this album. As with the music, each piece of lyric writing perfectly supports the mythological Viking framework. Kjellson displays a large knowlage of the Viking mythos. There is some anti-Christian, Heathen sentiment in some lyrics, but there is nothing quite as intense as on Graveland's releases. What you will find is on the same level as Bathory, who will remain a large marking point for the mood that Enslaved seem to be attempting to capture. I think on this release they capture the dark, fertile imagination and mythos of the Norse world perfectly. Their next album, Eld captured the Viking war song quite well, with some other mythological songs, but not as many as on here.
This is a beautiful release, and is one of the most atmospheric and wonderful things I have heard. It easily stands at the top of my list of early Black Metal releases, and would look quite good along side the aforementioned Darkthrone release and Emperor, all three having similar feels of the dark, mythological and beautiful Norse mythos. Really, this was the great thing about early Black Metal; all three bands have little in common, but they share the same feeling, the same beauty. This is one of the best albums I have heard, and has changed my feelings about Enslaved immensely. However I'm still not sure if I can get into the later music, I'll give it a few more tries. Buy this.
4: Svarte Vidder
9: Isoders Dronning