Richard G. : Tribute albums. Even though they undeniably have their function and significance, the actual added value is often negligible. Anyway, in the case of Enslaved all praise they get is more than deserved. More than twenty years ago they started as one of many bands in the first wave of Norwegian black metal, but with time they evolved to one of the key innovators in extreme, experimental metal. The puny, French label Pictonian records took the initiative and the result is this double album 'Önd - A Tribute'.
Twenty bands each take care of one song. Some of the more well-known participants are Fen, Dordeduh, Krakow and Vreid. From virtually every Enslaved release up until 2008's 'Vertebrae' at least one song is covered. Surprisingly one of the most experimental albums, 'Monumension', was the most popular record, with no less than three songs chosen from this record. As ever, there are only a small number of bands that actually took the time and effort to come up with something special. Italian outfit Janus, for example, took an interesting vocal approach to the 16 minute epic '793 (Slaget om Lindisfarne)'. As an extra nice touch, Ivar Bjornson surprisingly guests on his own tribute album. Then there is Asmodee from France, who added weird spoken vocals to 'Hollow Inside', which is one of the weirdest Enslaved songs (due to the lack of almost any structure). Island's semi-acoustic version of 'The Sleep' might not be very energetic, but at least it's original.
The absolute best entries are those of Stagnant Waters and As Light Dies. The first group have donned 'Storre enn tidd - tyngre enn natt' with some maniacal organ sounds and gurgly vocals that wer eput far, far back in the mix. The second group composed an absolutely brilliant jazzy math metal version of 'As Fire Swept Clean The Earth'. Honorary mention should be made for Wolves of Avalon, who gave 'Essence' a completely new sound palette, and for Fen's stately version of 'Resound Of Gjallarhorn'.
Whether a couple of original cover versions warrant a purchase is up to you. It could actually get pretty difficult to obtain a copy, because Pictonian sent this album for review more than a year after its release. The liner notes written for each song by either Grutle Kjelson or Ivar Bjornson give some interesting historical background. Maybe that this convinces the real fans and collectors to start their searches after all.