Popular Norwegian band influenced by Indian soundsBy Madhusree Chatterjee, IANS
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
NEW DELHI - They are inspired by Norse mythology and folklore, but members of Norwegian heavy metal band Enslaved say it also has subtle influences of sitar maestro Ravi Shankar and identifies with Indian classical music.
“We were inspired by Led Zeppelin, which was influenced by Ravi Shankar’s sitar music. That makes our music a little Oriental - but the influence is largely second generation because we were not directly inspired by the sitar maestro,” Grutle Kjellson, lead vocalist of the band, told IANS here.
The band, which was in India for the two-day Fuel Great Indian Rock Fest that concluded Sunday, plans to carry home more ‘Indian sounds’ for future use.
“We identify with the sitar, tabla and the Indian classical raga music, though we don’t use it directly in our compositions,” Kjellson said.
Formed in 1991, Enslaved is one of the biggest names in Norway’s progressive rock music - and is branded avant garde in the genre of global underground music for its fusion of Viking metal music with lyrics drawn from Norse mythology and heavy metallic sounds accentuated by razor sharp guitars, blast-beat drums and complex musical arrangements.
Their cacophonic tracks are often punctuated by soulful melodies and vocal harmonies.
“We transform old ideas into modern day songs of life. Norse mythology and folklore are very important to us because we have to understand our cultures to write and compose our own music. There is no point criticising other cultures without knowing your own culture,” Kjellson said.
“Whenever we are inspired by anything, we try to find parallels in mythology,” he said.
The band - formed by Grutle Kjellson and Ivar Bjornson in teenage years - now consists of five members. Besides the founders, the line-up includes Arve Isdal, Cato Bekkevold and Herbrand Larsen.
Enslaved follows the footsteps of Swedish Viking metal pioneer Bathory.
The band’s first album “Vikingligr Veldi”, released in 1994, showed profound influence of Scandinavian folk music. Enslaved tried to retell as many Norse legends and ancient traditions as possible. Their second album, “Frost”, was steeped in the Viking metal genre and folk-based lyrics.
“Our music alternates between mellow and dynamic,” Kjellson said.
The band member cited the tracks “Ethica Odini’ and “Giants” from their new album “Axioma Ethica Odini” released this year as “two of their signature songs that best epitomised the genre of metal music that they played.
When asked what makes heavy metal music so popular universally, Bjornson said: “It connects with the people and is a strong expression of freedom, especially in today’s society bound by fetters of conventions. It takes away the edge and allows one to live all the emotions - bringing out the primal.”
When asked if heavy metal music was anti-god, the lead vocalist said their songs had many layers and were open to interpretations.
The band will turn 20 in 2011.
(Madhusree Chatterjee can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)