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Borknagar The Archaic Course album cover
3.20 | 31 ratings | 5 reviews | 10% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1998

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Oceans Rise (5:27)
2. Universal (5:34)
3. The Witching Hour (4:26)
4. The Black Token (5:18)
5. Nocturnal Vision (4:34)
6. Ad Noctum (4:22)
7. Winter Millennium (5:43)
8. Fields of Long Gone Presence (2:15)

Total Time 37:39

Line-up / Musicians

- Simen "Vortex" Hestnæs / vocals, synths & Fx (6)
- Øystein G. Brun / guitar
- Jens F. Ryland / guitar
- Ivar Bjørnson / synths, Fx
- Kai K. Lie / bass
- Erik "Grim" Brødreskift / drums

Releases information

Artwork: Carsten Drescher

CD Century Media ‎- 77236-2 (1998, Europe)

LP Displeased Records ‎- D-00123 (2003, Netherlands)
LP Back On Black ‎- BOBV204LP (2010, UK)

Thanks to Logos for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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BORKNAGAR The Archaic Course ratings distribution

(31 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(10%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(39%)
Good, but non-essential (32%)
Collectors/fans only (19%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

BORKNAGAR The Archaic Course reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by OpethGuitarist
2 stars In the vortex.

There is a such thing as progressive black metal. Hard to believe, yes. It's not merely the presence of the keys, but the style the band exudes itself. Here, they take a different approach to songwriting, while still maintaining many of the trademarks of the black metal genre.

As in many albums, the band approaches things from a mythological standpoint (as often found in the genre). The vocals are more operatic in approach than scathing, although both can be found. The drums, for lack of a better word, are quite plain. The guitars focus on riff structures more than tremolo effects, and tend to migrate towards a somewhat "epic" structure.

My favorite piece here is Ad Noctum and Oceans Rise, as both probably have the most dynamic and varied band work of the album. I find other later releases by the band to be a bit better, although this might be a good start for those in the extreme metal field to lean towards more progressive material.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The Archaic Course is the third studio album from experimental black/ death metal band Borknagar. I can´t say I´ve been terribly impressed with their first two pretty simple yet melodic black metal albums but I sense a change in direction on The Archaic Course and I´m beginning to recognise the great experimental metal band that made Epic. Epic was my introduction to Borknagar and allthough Borknagar will never be my favorite experimental metal band they sure made a great album in Epic.

The Archaic Course is different from its predecessors ( Borknagar and The Olden Domain) because Borknagar has chosen to incorporate a classical symphonic element into their extreme metal sound. There are also lots of ethnic scandinavian folk elements in the music. Note that the music never turns into folk metal though. The Archaic Course is not a very extreme metal album even though new vocalist I.C.S. Vortex does growl/ rasp a lot there are lots of beautiful clean singing too. Fans of Green Carnation who can endure growling vocals should really give The Archaic Course a chance ( Start with Winter Millenium). I think the mood is very similar to the mood on the first couple of albums from Green Carnation. But that´s the atmosphere I´m talking about because Borknagar does play a more heavy kind of metal than Green Carnation. The songs are generally mid-paced and quite majestic with some pretty traditional heavy metal riffing. Nothing out of the ordinary in that department, but unlike other metal albums with average guitar riffs The Archaic Course wins because of it´s great atmosphere and I´m not left wondering where the great riffs were. Everything serves a purpose on this album.

The musicianship is great. Borknagar were always some of the better musicians on the Norwegian black metal scene or maybe that´s just because they never played sloppy on purpose like many of their contemporaries did?.

The production is quite enjoyable really. The sound is pretty raw and thereby fits the music, but you can hear everything that´s happening and as far as black metal productions go this one´s a pearl.

I wasn´t expecting The Archaic Course to be such an enjoyable album. It´s not very long ago I reviewed The Olden Domain and I thought to myself. My God there are still three albums to go before I can review Epic ( that´s the rules I set for myself. Always review bands from the start of their career going forward to get the best impression of their development). That way of thinking has changed dramatically after listening to The Archaic Course and I´m now looking forward to reviewing both Quintessence and Empiricism ( well I know that one a bit. I took a sneak peak). The Archaic Course lies somewhere between a 3 and a 4 star rating but since I´m a bit happily surprised right now I´ll be nice and give it a 4.

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Borknagar are one of the early bands in the Norwegian symphonic black metal legions, it's a type of music with a high black metal factor when promo pictures are taken or cameras are around, but with nothing of the libertarian ideology nor the harsh power of real black metal. Luckily for Borknagar, they aren't too concerned with their image but focus on the music instead.

The sound is very different from the bleak black metal of Enslaved or Satyricon. Melodic and symphonic elements dominate over blast beats, harshness and aggression. The music is fast-paced, upbeat, well produced and thrashy rather then the usual repetitive drone of black metal. In fact, this sits fairly close to symphonic power metal, it's just a bit more creepy and crazy at times.

This certainly goes for Borknager who crafted a fine metal album here with mostly melodic vocals of the very dramatic and slightly operatic type. The vocalist would soon leave Borknager to join the more successful act Dimmu Borgir and deliver some good melodious vocals in that band. His vocals are very affected and slightly strained at time, creating a tiring effect on me that wants to put off the album halfway in. Nevertheless, it's worth persisting as the second half is better then the first. There's not that big a difference but the songs tend to be more distinguishable from one another.

Prog fans shouldn't get their hopes up from the progressive tag, the music is high quality and melodious, but is a true metal feast, meaning there's next to no dynamics and it rocks at virtually the same pace, intensity and density from start to finish. 3.5 stars

Latest members reviews

2 stars After releasing in 1997 a strong album like The Olden Domain - an eclectic blend of prog, black metal and Viking metal -, Øystein Brun and his bandmates entered Woodhouse Studios again in 1998 to record eight new compositions under the supervision of sound engineer Matthias Klinkmann, who had alread ... (read more)

Report this review (#2598775) | Posted by lukretio | Sunday, October 3, 2021 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Archaic Course is the effort of a band in their prime time. Epic, powerfull, majestic music. Best production they ever had thanx to Woodhouse Studios. The guitars play the main role along with Hestnaes' voice (aka ICS Vortex: Dimmu Borgir, Arcturus, etc etc) They sound really loud and are play ... (read more)

Report this review (#58826) | Posted by | Thursday, December 1, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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