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Borknagar - The Olden Domain CD (album) cover



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3 stars Borknagar goes English.

The most obvious difference between this album and the debut is the lyrics, which are now in English. But there are many other differences as well. The band has matured and the songwriting has progressed greatly, as is evident by the wonderful track Om Hundrede Aar Er Alting Glemt, a tense and subtle piece that is a real highlight of the album, even if it is unlike the other tracks.

Garm, of Ulver, lends his help in the vocal department providing an array of quality vocals that help to make this record stand out from later releases by the band, as he is far superior in quality to later vocalists of the band. Of note is the variety he provides on the 2nd track The Winterway.

This record is more in the vein of Black Metal than later albums. But to dismiss it would be foolish, as it stands out as quite a diverse and interesting album that has more to it than tremolo riffs and scathing vocals. Underneath is a band with enormous talent and ability, one no one should discard because of a mere label.

Report this review (#118332)
Posted Friday, April 13, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is my favourite Borknagar album so far. Therefore I give it 4 stars, because I think, every prog connoisseur should a listen at it. But I have to point out that this is prog metal, i.e. it derived from black metal, so it may sound to harsh for the fans of more gentle prog. As a progressing out of black metal, the band kept stylistic trademarks as the lyrical themes of nature, winter and pagan belief - since their from Norway like many black metal bands in that time.

Instrumentally they use tempo shifts from time to time, accelerating the pace to what can be called blast beat as a musical term used in metal. They use atmospheric keyboards and in the same way guitar riffs which makes their sound very dense at times, and additionally they use of course fast metal riffs and bm-style tremolo picking. The vocals range from harsh bm-style growling to clean vocals. Most of all I would consider this album as prog, because the songs have a developing structure, which is what I closely connect to prog music. The album contains two calm instrumentals: Om Hundrede aar er Alting Glemt and Ascension of Our Fathers, the other songs have vocals. Best songs in my opinion are The Winterway and the two titles To Mount and Rove and Grimland Domain which are merged together as really one song.

Report this review (#177275)
Posted Saturday, July 19, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars The Olden Domain is the second album from Norwegian melodic black metal band Borknager. Besides band leader and main composer Øystein G. Brun on guitars the band also have other very prolific Norwegian black metal musicians in the lineup. Garm from Ulver takes care of the vocals which includes his beautiful clean ones and his black metal rasp while Ivar Bjørnson from Enslaved plays synth.

The music on The Olden Domain is melodic black metal. Even though synth is a part of Borknagarīs sound I wouldnīt characterize their music as symphonic. At least not in the same way as bands like Dimmu Borgir or Cradle of Filth. The music is rather primitive but not primitive like Mayhem or Darkthrone. Borknagar sits firmly between the raw primitive type black metal and the more symphonic approach to the genre on The Olden Domain.

The musicianship seems a bit sloppy in my ears and I especially have a distaste for the drumming from Grim ( I just love that name. It translates into the word ugly in my native Danish language. As the Danish and Norwegian languages are related itīs probably the same in Norwegian. Talk about having a stupid artist name) which I find annoying and flawed. But the rest of the performances are not that convincing either except for Garm who delivers his usual professional performance. Too bad the vocal lines are really awkward and not very memorable.

The production is a mix of lo-fi and studio production. Lets just say that I donīt like it. It annoys me.

This is one of those albums I had a really hard time getting through and in this case I listened to the album several times to make this review. Thankfully Borknagar has aged like good wine because the early efforts from the band are not worth my time. I like my black metal every other way than this hybrid style that doesnīt know if it wants to be primitive or symphonic. Itīs not a complete waste of time but The Olden Domain is not worth more than 2 stars in my book. This one is clearly only for the hardcore fans of the band. Donīt give up on Borknagar because you read this though as they have made good music later in their career. Let me recommend that you start with their album from 2004 called Epic instead. A high quality album IMO.

Report this review (#180438)
Posted Thursday, August 21, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Borknagar's The Olden Domain sees them crafting an unusual variety of progressive black metal. The primary experiment here seems to be to inject more conventional metal sounds (both in terms of playing and singing) into a black metal format and context, but the real trick is in managing to do that in a way which results in something which seems to be distinct from both metal traditions, rather than simply sounding like watered-down and weak black metal. With Garm's vocals in the picture the album sounds a lot like a foundational document along the way to Arcturus' glorious The Sham Mirrors. On the whole, a fascinating little album.
Report this review (#753446)
Posted Tuesday, May 15, 2012 | Review Permalink

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