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Borknagar - Epic CD (album) cover




Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

3.63 | 35 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Prog Sothoth
3 stars Borknagar can mean a lot of things: an alien race, an insect that eats trees, or a deviant sexual act. Apparently the name is just a name, as the band didn't wish to be tied down genre-wise by a title that adheres to strict categorization, which in a way gives them prog credentials before even hearing the music. Name your band Skullripper or Satan's Buttocks and you'll likely have a tougher time convincing potential fans that your brand of metal is intrinsically progressive, although Gorguts managed that feat. Borknagar's version of extreme metal doesn't shoot for off-kilter weirdness though; they play a rather melodic and easy-on-the-ears variety while maintaining enough aggression and speediness to easily hold on to their classification here.

The base of their music is symphonic black metal. There's the atonal goblin rasps, sections bolstered by blastbeats, tremolo riffs and plenty of keyboards to add extra layers to the mix. The mix itself seems to almost favor the keyboards by merely giving them an equal push to the front as the guitars sound-wise. But other aspects of the band give them a bit of identity separate from the numerous Emperor clones that began clogging metal sections of large and soon to be defunct record chain stores in the late 90s. By the time this album was released, that whole scene had mostly withered out, possibly due to the backlash involving a few bands of that ilk that became commercially successful by underground standards, but Borknagar stuck to their guns and evolved their sound somewhat with a strong hammond organ presence and an increasing majestic and far from 'grim' sounding chord sequences. Vintersorg's clean vocals continue to be used frequently, and why not since the guy can sing, and does so without resorting to falsettos, 'gruffiness' or a soft approach. The lyrics have next to nothing to do with typical morbid subject matter, focusing instead on the mysteries of life, the universe and everything. No mention of Douglas Adams though.

To be honest though, their style gets a bit tiresome after awhile with all the bombast and a production that's tight, clear but lacking in atmosphere. I actually prefer a couple of their early works just because they just felt more organic rather than clinical, but I could just be thinking this because I've heard enough bands with elements this album possesses that it doesn't strike a chord except on a few occasions. "The Inner Ocean Hypothesis" without a doubt remains memorable though thanks to the cool piano, drum and bass jazziness going on at times. Probably my favorite track off the album.

I can't fault the band at what they do; they most certainly are a talented bunch, including the vocalist, and there are plenty of quality moments throughout that stand out after repeated listens. As a whole though, it doesn't grab me like it would have done if it were released in the mid-nineties...although I'm guessing it would've thrown me across the room if that was the case.

Prog Sothoth | 3/5 |


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