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ENSLAVED's Grutle Kjellson on Early Love of KISS, MERCYFUL FATE and Their Mind-bending New Record Utgard


They are one of the game-changing bands in all of extreme metal, a pillar of the mid 90s change in trend and genre in Norwegian black metal and are only getting better with age.

Heading into their 30th anniversary in 2021, Enslaved continues to push boundaries and blow minds apart with their 15th studio album Utgard.

Following up their 14th studio album E – which won the Norwegian equivalent of a Grammy, the Spellemann Award – the core of bassist and vocalist Grutle Kjellson and Ivar Bjørnson (who have performed and created together since their teenage days), guitarist Arve "Ice Dale" Isdal and newest members Håkon Vinje and producer-turned-full time-drummer Iver Sandøy, unleash Utgard, a collection that tackles the folklore and mythologies of their home country while also serving as a philosophical mind-fuck of imagery, metaphors and dream-states.

"For me, it first and foremost represents the realm of dreams, a place filled with chaos, a place that you cannot control, but a place that is crucial, a place that you have to draw inspiration from to get creativity and something positive energy," Kjellson said of the ideas behind Utgard.

"If you wake up and you ask yourself, what the fuck was that? What was my brain doing? Well, you had, let’s say an astral journey into Utgard. You have no idea, but you have to find out. You have to draw something. You have to find a makeup of what it means to you."

Touching on his earliest influences and musical inspirations growing up in Sveio, Norway, Kjellson shares his love for early shock rock icons of the 70s and 80s.

"Well, there’s obviously more than two or three crucial bands," he shares. "I mean, early on it was a shock rock like KISS. We actually were introduced to KISS through candy packs. They were like collector cards in candy bags. We were trading pictures of KISS and English soccer players. So that was the first thing. Everybody was familiar with KISS before even hearing the music. 

ENSLAVED's Grutle Kjellson on Early Love of KISS, MERCYFUL FATE and Their Mind-bending New Record Utgard

"Mercyful Fate, they were the most important band for me. I mean, they were more important to me than, let’s say, Venom or those German thrash metal bands. That came a little later for me. So my main influences was like the 70s hard rock, Mercyful Fate, King Diamond and underground death, black metal, stuff like Entombed, Autopsy, early Darkthrone, Mayhem. There was some sort of variety back then too. Of course we had the bands like Pink Floyd. That’s always been important and generally a lot of shit from the 70s."

Enslaved are giving fans plenty to chew on ahead of Utgard, with the announcement of a once-in-a-lifetime performance of their debut album at Beyond The Gates festival in Bergen alongside Emperor and Mayhem at Grieghallen Studio, as well as their larger-than-life cinematic tour with some of Europe's more renowned metal-fests.

Utgard drops October 2nd through Nuclear Blast!

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