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Enslaved to metal and music

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EXTREME METAL Band members of Enslaved performing at Turquoise Cottage
EXTREME METAL Band members of Enslaved performing at Turquoise Cottage

Ivar Bjornson from Enslaved, an extreme metal group from Norway, talks about their music

The Great Indian Rock Show (GIR) 2007, was launched on a heavy metal note at Turquoise Cottage in New Delhi recently. Rock Street Journal (RSJ) brought Apache GIR, co sponsored by Timex, to Delhi last weekend. (Salil Sadanandan, Senior Vice President, Marketing & Sales, also unveiled Timex's "Heavy Metal" collection at the event.)In its eleventh year, 11 bands performed at the Hamsadhwani Open Air Theatre at Pragiti Maidan. Amit Saigal, editor and publisher of RSJ, said that this year too GIR provided a platform to counter-culture music in the country. Enslaved, a contemporary extreme metal band from Norway, inaugurated the GIR. Performing for the first time in Asia, this 16-year-old band, with nine albums, has received the Norwegian Grammy. Relaxed before their performance, Ivar Bjornson, guitarist/key board player of Enslaved, spoke about their music. With his long hair, black attire and numerous tattoos, he looked a head banger. But his conversation was as clear, as his guitar was loud.

Not black metal

Classifying their music as "extreme metal", he distanced it from "black metal". Black metal has satanic concepts, which Enslaved does not subscribe to. The band draws heavily instead from ancient Nordic and Viking mythology. He described it as a "non-linear, non-religious mythology," combined with Jung's ideas. It's essentially a system without laws, where nothing is either right or wrong. But isn't that an anarchy? He clarified that many human laws come from instinct. Morals have to be felt and cannot be simply imposed. Bassist Grutle Kjellson and Ivar first formed a band when they were aged 12 and 13 respectively. Their musical preferences are different but they both see the seventies as the "Golden Age," because of Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and the likes. Popularity brings the marginalised to the centre. Ivar admits that Enslaved is today in a paradoxical position. But says that their popularity has not mainstreamed them. "Our position is the same, but the mainstream has expanded," he explains. Ivar's left arm is dedicated to music. Symbols of Pink Floyd and King Crimson are tattooed on it. His right arm is dedicated to Nordic mythology. A modern symbol illustrates how one eye must be lost to gain sight with the spiritual eye. The iron cross of Celtic mythology symbolises balance, he explained. Ivar thinks hard when asked for a lyric that illustrates their philosophy. "They turned safety into non-existence," he finally replies. NANDINI NAIR

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