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Borknagar - Empiricism CD (album) cover

EMPIRICISM

Borknagar

 

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

3.27 | 40 ratings

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splyu
4 stars Prior to this album's release, I had only heard Borknagar's previous, ''Quintessence'', and had liked it a lot; thus, I was very interested to hear what they'd come up with this time. However, I certainly didn't expect anything like this! The album's atmosphere is very different from ''Quintessence'' (in hindsight, that one is a rather atypical Borknagar album, but obviously I didn't know that at the time), and if anything, I liked it even more. Gloriously melodic, opulent arrangements abound right from the opening piano chords of ''The Genuine Pulse''. The musicianship is outstanding throughout; even (at the time) new vocalist Vintersorg (whose voice I generally like but whose performance I rarely find flawless) puts down the best vocals I've heard from him so far on this disc.

Lars Nedland makes very good use of his trademark Hammond here, an instrument rarely heard in extreme metal that lends some very interesting touches to this album. His piano-based instrumental ''Matter & Motion'' is one of the most intriguing instrumentals I've heard in all of metal (together with ''Inner Landscape'' from the previous album). The (fretless) bass and drum performances in particular are also among the finest to be found in the genre.

Each of the songs has something of its own to offer; while stylisitcally coherent, the individual tracks are far from samey. Even after dozens of spins, this disc still manages to keep me interested throughout as the compositions are so well thought-out and ''complete''. For its genre, this could be said to be a rather atypical album, for where black metal (progressive or otherwise) often strives to deliver a cold atmosphere, the music on here sounds about as warm and organic as is possible within the boundaries of the style. If you can imagine genuinely progressive (post)-black metal with a subtle yet ever-present 70s vibe, that's about what this album sounds like.

With the follow-up, ''Epic'', being a tad disappointing to these ears (basically more of the same, but not on quite the same level), and the latest album, ''Origin'', being a folky, semi-acoustic effort that sadly doesn't do much for me (even though I don't mind the style in general), ''Empiricism'' stands as the finest Borknagar album so far for me, the one where they managed to completely play to their strengths and get everything just right.

splyu | 4/5 |

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