August 8, 2012 at 9:51am


NPR.org’s “All Songs Considered” blog is hosting the worldwide debut of “Thoughts Like Hammers,” the lead-off track to the new ENSLAVED album RIITIIR, due out in Europe on September 28th and in North America on October 9th.  Listen to the track here.


In the first of eight installments, ENSLAVED rhythm guitarist/songwriter/lyricist Ivar Bjørnson and bassist/vocalist/lyricist Grutle Kjellson offer song commentaries on the Norwegian strain of progressive extreme metal they’ve come to be known for.


Bjørnson on “Thoughts Like Hammers”:


“This was a song that I was very proud to have made when I presented it to the guys - and a song that triggered some light worry with Herbrand [Larsen, clean vocalist & keyboard player] due to its inherent ‘weirdness’ (snicker snicker). I just had to ask him to simply trust me, his own, and the band’s abilities to transform the vision into a full-fledged ENSLAVED-classic.


As it turned out, it became one of his favorite songs in the end - and mine, too! For me it is also a song that taught me a thing or two about ENSLAVED and our relationship to ‘structure.’ While I earlier on might have thought that we were moving away from structures, this song has made me realize that we have simply gone further into exploring structuring and arrangements, not going away from it.


Switching to lyrics: this is a song that is about what it says it is about from several perspectives - or maybe it is simply just a cool title? Nietzsche coined the phrase “philosophizing with a hammer,” which on an individual level is what this could be about: testing your own values/idols/ego with a hammer rather than the usual light tapping with chopsticks. Are you man/woman enough to scrutinize your own inner world in the most brutal manner? There are many mythologically and psychologically-based starting points to look at it from. For me it could very well be a tribute to every process and ritual that seeks subjective truth at the merciless expense of objective illusions.”


Kjellson on “Thoughts Like Hammers”:


“I’ve always been a sucker for strange music, not necessarily strange in the sense that it’s very technical or having loads of odd-beat themes; more like the feeling I get while watching a David Lynch movie… an ‘I don’t get this’ - at the same time something is challenging enough so that I want to dig deeper into the core.  There´s nothing wrong with franks and beans, but a plate of oysters IS more interesting, if you catch my drift. So, moving away from the silly metaphors for a while, I really enjoyed the sketches I got from Ivar on this song.  Although I didn’t clearly see the direction the song would take, I instantly felt the potential. After a couple of hours in the rehearsal room with Ivar and Cato [Bekkevold, drummer], I strongly felt that this had to be the opening track! It has everything an opening song requires: a natural intro, a bit of the challenging ‘weirdness’ I mentioned, and last but not least: it introduces a lot of elements that come around later on the album. Ivar was quite puzzled when I introduced the idea of having ‘Thoughts Like Hammers’ as the opener, but after giving it a couple of days, he agreed. Ice [Dale, guitarist] and Herbrand were kind of skeptical, but during the recording session all of us grew to enjoy this piece more and more, and it ended up being among everyone’s favorite. Ivar’s lyrics fit perfect for a song like this: another journey into his universe of metaphysics and mysticism. ‘Mud-dwellers at the star floor’ sounds like nothing but thoughts like hammers!”


RIITIIR’s track listing is:


01. Thoughts Like Hammers

02. Death In The Eyes Of Dawn

03. Veilburner

04. Roots Of The Mountain

05. Riitiir

06. Materal

07. Storm Of Memories

08. Forsaken


RIITIIR’s 2 LP double-gatefold track listing is:


Side A:  01. Thoughts Like Hammers // 02. Death In The Eyes Of Dawn

Side B:  01. Veilburner // 02. Roots Of The Mountain

Side C:  01. Riitiir // 02. Materal

Side D:  01. Storm Of Memories // 02. Forsaken



ENSLAVED will be performing on Saturday, August 11th at this year’s Into The Grave festival in Leeuwarden, The Netherlands.