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Borknagar - Quintessence CD (album) cover

QUINTESSENCE

Borknagar

 

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

3.23 | 34 ratings

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UMUR
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Quintessence is the fourth full-length studio album by Norwegian melodic/ symphonic black metal act Borknagar. The album was released through Century Media Records on the 17th of April 2000. The album is produced by prolific Swedish producer and musician Peter Tägtgren ( Hypocrisy, Pain, The Abyss, Bloodbath, Lock Up). Thereīs been some major lineup changes since the previous album The Archaic Course (1998) as lead vocalist ICS Vortex has taken over the bass role ( in addition to performing lead vocals) from Kai K. Lie who has left the band ( ICS Vortex would actually leave Borknagar after Quintessence to join Dimmu Borgir). Ivar Bjørnson ( Enslaved) has also left the band to be replaced by Lars A. Nedland ( Solefald, Age of Silence) on keyboards. And finally drummer Grim ( Immortal, Gorgoroth) has left to be replaced by Asgeir Mickelson ( Spiral Architect, Testament, Ihsahn, Vintersorg...etc). Grim sadly commited suicide on the 4th of October 1999 by taking an overdose of drugs. He played on every Borknagar release before Quintessence.

All the personal changes havenīt changed the musical style much though as all songs are still primarely written by band leader and guitarist Øystein G. Brun. The music is still on the melodic and symphonic side of the black metal spectrum and the album has both raspy/ growling vocals as well as some really excellent clean vocals. The music is very keyboard laden and atmospheric. Donīt expect raw and unpolished black metal here. This is very well produced and the sound quality is professional and clean. Two songs stand out the most for me on the album and thatīs the majestic and beautiful The Presence Is Ominous and Colossus which both have lots of clean vocals. Itīs not that I donīt enjoy ICS Vortex raspy/ growling vocals but his clean vocals are really majestic and powerful.

The musicianship is excellent. While Grim was a really good drummer, Asgeir Mickelson really takes the music further in terms of power and diversity. He still keeps it pretty simple though compared to some of his other projects. Anyone who knows his work with Spiral Architect knows what he is capable of.

The first time I listened to Quintessence I was sure I would give it a 4 star rating but after a couple of listens my rating is now a big 3 star rating. Itīs simply a matter of personal taste. I find the music a bit too trivial towards the end of the album and maybe a bit too melodic and symphonic for my taste as well. Maybe I just miss a bit more edge. Quintessence is a very well composed, performed and produced black metal album though so if youīre interested in the more melodic and symphonic part of the genre this will probably excite you a bit more than me.

UMUR | 3/5 |

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