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Borknagar Quintessence album cover
3.22 | 43 ratings | 8 reviews | 14% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 2000

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Rivalry of Phantoms (4:36)
2. The Presence Is Ominous (4:54)
3. Ruins of the Future (4:55)
4. Colossus (4:27)
5. Inner Landscape (2:50)
6. Invincible (4:24)
7. Icon Dreams (4:32)
8. Genesis Torn (5:15)
9. Embers (1:25)
10. Revolt (6:05)

Total Time 43:23

Line-up / Musicians

- Simen "Vortex" Hestnæs / vocals, bass
- Øystein G. Brun / guitar
- Jens F. Ryland / guitar
- Lars Nedland / synth
- Asgeir Mickelson / drums

Releases information

Artwork: Asgeir Mickelson

CD Century Media ‎- 77289-2 (2000, Europe)

LP Century Media ‎- 77289-1 (2000, Europe)
LP Back On Black ‎- BOBV205LP (2010, UK)

Thanks to Logos for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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BORKNAGAR Quintessence ratings distribution

(43 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(14%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(40%)
Good, but non-essential (35%)
Collectors/fans only (12%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

BORKNAGAR Quintessence reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by OpethGuitarist
2 stars Continued struggles.

The mood really was killed here and with Archaic Course in what I see as two very average at best records. The atmospheres the band are able to create are just not there, and if anything, the so called progressiveness of the band serves as a detrimental effect on their sound rather than a positive one.

The keyboards are highly overdone, almost to a laughable cheesy factor, and this coupled with I feel to be less than stellar vocals. Also, the album is highly repetitive and none of the riffs seem to distinguish themselves from one another. I was really disappointed with this particular release. You will find to your liking some of the earlier Borknagar releases or some of the later ones if you are looking for this type of material.

Review by 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). There´s 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 haven´t 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. Don´t 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 that´s the majestic and beautiful The Presence Is Ominous and Colossus which both have lots of clean vocals. It´s not that I don´t 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. It´s 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 you´re interested in the more melodic and symphonic part of the genre this will probably excite you a bit more than me.

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Borknagar were really onto something by the end of the 20th century. The Archaic Course was a strong album and the Quintessence album pushed the symphonic black metal to an even louder and more extravangant level of bombast then anything before.

10 years ago I had a short fling with this type of music that lasted for about 3 albums. 2 from Dimmu Borgir and Borknagar's The Archaic Course. That is probably about all you need. This music is so formulaic and single-minded that you'll never need more then 3 albums. Each minute must be loud, it must feature dual guitars engaging in sharp-edged riffing battles that take place under dark keyboard heavy skies. Busy drums have to seal each possible breathing space tight with blasting beats and endless fills. Add a vocalist varying gutteral bile with clean anthemic metal chants and you got it nailed.

That doesn't necessarily mean it's bad, it's a description that can be applied to many types of music, but there's actually only one track that moves me a bit and it sits right at the end. Revolt stands out with one of the very few remarkable melodies.

You get it, I'm not too fond of this, but it's well done and probably deserves 3 stars, maybe 4 if you're into this type of music.

Latest members reviews

3 stars Quintessence, Borknagar's fourth album, was released two years after the underwhelming response to their 1998's album The Archaic Course. It is a record that rights many of the wrongs of its predecessor (messy and unfocused songwriting; overambitious experimentalism; sub-par production), but that al ... (read more)

Report this review (#2601116) | Posted by lukretio | Sunday, October 10, 2021 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Borknagar has achieved their trademark sound as we know if for most of the time on that album. The line-up has changed again, keybords and drums were it for this time. Despite this, the band sounds tight and players well aligned. Borknagar has by this time turned into a all-around metal beast ma ... (read more)

Report this review (#2309957) | Posted by sgtpepper | Monday, January 27, 2020 | Review Permanlink

4 stars 'Quintessence' is the fourth album by Norwegian progressive black metal band Borknagar, from Bergen. If that's a bit of a mouthful, it essentially means they spawned from Bergen's prominent and often infamous black metal scene in the early 90s, but evolved to incorporate more of a folk and progre ... (read more)

Report this review (#114498) | Posted by Frankingsteins | Thursday, March 8, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Over the course of Borknagar's first three full length albums, they have become not only one of Norway's most prominent acts, but also made a name for themselves in the Metal scene as masters of Blackened Epic Metal. The atmospheres this band creates is spellbinding, giving the listener a feel ... (read more)

Report this review (#86019) | Posted by bleak | Sunday, August 6, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Having made a review about their magnificent "Archaic Course", and seeing this one without any reviews yet, I had to do something to change that situation. Basically this is at the same style as the previous one, BUT... One or two facts change things! the epic stuff is still there but by now G ... (read more)

Report this review (#58831) | Posted by | Thursday, December 1, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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