In the fifth of eight installments, ENSLAVED bassist/vocalist/lyricist Grutle Kjellson and rhythm guitarist/songwriter/lyricist Ivar Bjørnson offer song commentaries on their trademarked Norwegian strain of progressive extreme metal that will be unveiled with their twelfth studio album, RIITIIR, due out on September 28th.
Kjellson on “Riitiir”:
“I really wanted to use these lyrics on the song that ended up being ‘Roots Of The Mountain,’ but Ivar insisted on using them on this one. I’m glad he did so! This song is the shortest, ‘only’ 5 minutes 30 seconds long, and the far most bombastic and conclusive song on the album. A nothing-but-perfect title track! The diversity in the different riffs – from Middle-Eastern-like passages to almost Swedish folk/prog-like tones – really suits my lyrics and the initial meaning of those. I will not reveal too much; it’s up to the so-called attentive reader to judge what they really mean. I could, of course, explain what it all means, but that would be as exciting as Leonardo Da Vinci explaining the facial expression of the Mona Lisa. I’m not saying that the codes in the ‘Riitiir’ lyrics will be debated for 500 years, but let us leave some mysteries for the readers that enjoy metaphors and ‘Easter eggs.’ They are, however – as a rough guide – about a widely worshipped god/deity around the world that appears under different names in different geographical areas. The name ‘Riitiir’ is an ENSLAVED-ish way of writing rite, or the rites of man if you like – just like ‘Ruun’ was for writing rune – i.e. just a cosmetic variation really, but we thought it looked and sounded cool. It’s okay to take a couple of chances, isn’t it?”
Bjørnson on “Riitiir”:
“This song came as a result of the title, before it became the title for the entire album. As I went for a ‘ritualistic’ feel to the music for this song, it seemed natural to utilize a more straightforward/traditional song structure than I normally do these days (‘Why does everything have to be so weird?’). I love how the mix of the northern folk elements blend with arabesque and eastern mystical notes here and there… and how the different vocal styles build up the dramatic and almost threatening feeling that emanates from the choruses. The middle-section really did its job with a mix of Scandi-folkprog, gongs, hysterical chord progressions, and Grutle’s voice slithering among the riff-reed like some ancient pike demon. A guitar player I admire highly heard the song recently and said that the verse riffing reminded him of Malmsteen in his heyday; what a compliment! Last but not nearly last, there’s Grutle’s lyrics. For me it represents the other half of the album’s conceptual inner-core together with ‘Thoughts Like Hammers’ – it illustrates the synergy that keeps us vital, relevant, and perhaps even progressive in our expanding lyrical universe; my (sometimes ridiculously) unscientific and subjective explorations of psychology, mysticism, and philosophy with Grutle’s insight and more structured research into mythology and history. With these lyrics, it is more appropriate to use the plural form, mythologies, as he is including a vast diversity of them ranging from Indian mysticism (where some even say Oden once originated from before wandering west and north) and onwards in both history and geography. For me this is a particularly important song, as it underlines the universal, introspective, and time/placeless nature of ENSLAVED as opposed the petty cultural pissing-contest so often associated with so-called ‘pagan’ art in our time.”
Read their commentary on the tracks “Thoughts Like Hammers”, “Death In The Eyes Of Dawn”, “Veilburner” and “Roots Of The Mountain” on the band’s Facebook page.