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BORKNAGAR

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal • Norway


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Borknagar biography
Founded in Bergen, Norway in 1995 - Still active as of 2019

The Norwegian group BORKNAGAR is quite a different prog band. They actually started out as a pure black metal band but through the years they've evolved with every album, and today BORKNAGAR is a progressive symphonic black/death metal band with viking / folk elements. Their lyrics consider such topics as philosophy and nature. The band was formed in 1995 by guitarist ōystein Brun, who left his former band MOLESTED because he wanted to explore the more melodic sides of metal. The band has gone through several line-up changes and today it consists of Brun (guitars), Andreas Hedlund aka Vintersorg (vocals), Lars Nedland aka Lazare (keyboards) and Asgeir Mickelson (drums).

BORKNAGAR has released six studio albums. Their first, self titled album is a black metal album with Norwegian lyrics, but all the later albums have been sung in English and with the change of language the music has also evolved. Their best efforts are probably "Quintessence" (2000) and "Epic" (2004) , both being symphonic prog metal with an epic edge.

Highly recommended to all prog metal fans! Their sound is highly progressive with the technical guitar - and keyboard - based compositions with complex instrumental passages.

See also:
- Arcturus
- Ulver

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BORKNAGAR discography


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BORKNAGAR top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.91 | 29 ratings
Borknagar
1996
3.35 | 37 ratings
The Olden Domain
1997
3.35 | 26 ratings
The Archaic Course
1998
3.21 | 37 ratings
Quintessence
2000
3.31 | 37 ratings
Empiricism
2001
3.66 | 37 ratings
Epic
2004
3.43 | 35 ratings
Origin
2006
3.26 | 34 ratings
Universal
2010
3.19 | 45 ratings
Urd
2012
3.90 | 40 ratings
Winter Thrice
2016
3.92 | 43 ratings
True North
2019

BORKNAGAR Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

BORKNAGAR Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

BORKNAGAR Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.50 | 4 ratings
For The Elements (1996-2006)
2008

BORKNAGAR Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

BORKNAGAR Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 True North by BORKNAGAR album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.92 | 43 ratings

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True North
Borknagar Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

4 stars There have been some significant changes in the Borgnakar line-up since 2016's 'Winter Thrice', with singer Andreas "Vintersorg" Hedlund, guitarist Jens F. Ryland and drummer Baard Kolstad all departing. Given how long the guys had all been members of the band, this was bound to have a major impact as Vintersong had been there continuously since 2000, Ryland had been there for 11 years this time, and another six-year period previously, while even drummer Kolstad had been there for six. The three remaining members obviously had a major rethink and decided to continue with ICS Vortex (bass) and Lars "Lazare" Nedland (keyboards) providing all the vocals between them, which meant the band could drop to a quintet. Founder 'ystein G. Brun has now been joined on the six-string attack by Jostein Thomassen (Fracture, Profane Burial, Viper Solfa, Source of Tide), and with drummer Bj'rn Dugstad R'nnow (Maahlas, Profane Burial, Viper Solfa) the band have returned with their latest album. It is interesting that both new members of the band are also active in the same bands, so they already have a strong working relationship.

The result is 'True North', and the title doesn't only reference their home country of Norway but about staying true to their own beliefs and decision making. I have been a fan of Vortex since I first heard him performing on 'Death Cult Armageddon' with Dimmu Borgir (he left Borgnakar for ten years and then returned), as his vocals are simply superb. Musically the band have gone back to what people really expect of them, Viking oriented progressive black metal, which is bombastic and massively over the top, and is sure to get a great many of their fans very excited indeed. To my ears, I wish the production has been pulled back somewhat as the feeling is of an album which is smothering the listener as it feels like there is just no room at all to breathe. Then there is the closing song, 'Voices', which is basic, compelling and almost folk-like. This is totally at odds with the rest of the album, both in sound and format, and one wonders if it has been put there is fans decide they really aren't interesting in it and can ignore. As for me, I find it quite compelling in many ways and certainly intriguing.

They have survived the loss of major members of their line-up and have come back with a very good album indeed (although not quite as indispensable as many fans seem to be saying). It will be interesting to see what happens next and how they build on this.

 Origin by BORKNAGAR album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.43 | 35 ratings

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Origin
Borknagar Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by sgtpepper

3 stars This might be the most accessible Borknagar album for a progger simply due to lack of extreme metal element. Borknagar prove that they can craft beautiful acoustic, melodic and creative music highlighting their prowess diverse music styles. Emotions are limited to the more positive ones. The absence of heavy elements let some of Borknagar's strongest weapons to dominate: excellent vocal tone and harmonies, accessible melodies and clearer keyboards. Furthermore, violin, cello and flute add a more folky feeling.

On a less positive note, after a couple of tracks, the typical Borknagar fan might lack music challenges and ambitions of previous releases. One exception is "White" that stands out due to its instrumentation, melody and pace. "The spirit of nature" is a purely symphonic number and instrumental. A good album that is not overly long and very original/unexpected of Borknagar.

 Epic by BORKNAGAR album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.66 | 37 ratings

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Epic
Borknagar Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by sgtpepper

4 stars Another very strong output by Borknagar, I see it in the same league with Empirism, strong progressive elements, clever songwriting while retaining extreme metal hooks and not getting commercial as on the later "Winter Thrice" or "True north". Contrasts between solid melodies and heavy black/death/viking metal massage is stunning. It sounds as if the band penned the tracks with ease because they found the great balance of talent, maturity and heaviness/softness.

"Future Reminiscence" has their trademark black metal shrieks but also Viking harmony vocals in the middle section. Also, listen to tasty symphonic and keyboard elements. "Traveller" has soaring melodies that oscillate between melancholy, depression and anger. "Origin" has a slowlier Opethesque sequence of riffs, the second half with vocal harmonies and keyboards is incredible. "The weight of the wind" has a retro prog 70's feeling with haunting piano and synth line, not many black metal bands could pull out such song. The black metal "Resonance" takes everything by force but has Viking vocals. "Relate" confirms the talent by the band to combine organ, Viking influence and black metal elements. "Cyclus" is my most favourite song and a very memorable one for its sinister riff, vocals and great Hammond chords. "Circled" could be considered a semi-ballad thanks to harmony vocals, tender melody and symphonic sounds of brass instruments? "Quintessence" starts on a sober note but transforms into a relentness black metal excercise. The last song, "The wonder" has a great melody and epic feeling although having only 4 minutes. 5 stars for metal listeners, 4 for progressive rock/metal fans.

 Empiricism by BORKNAGAR album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.31 | 37 ratings

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Empiricism
Borknagar Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by sgtpepper

4 stars Keyboards and drums continue to be the most progressive elements on the album followed by vocals. By now, the band can offer a high quality clean vocal tandem, black metal screaming as well as death-metal growling. Especially the second half of the album is ambitious and progressive by Borknagar standards.

A very unusual electronic start in the first few seconds is abruptly interrupted by unmercible black-metal drums with a retro-synth. There is a duel between the warm clean vocals and black metal shrieks. If you listen to the previous album and skip to this track, you will notice quite a flat sound and drums higher in the mix which I don't like m uch. It is one of the most memorable tracks on the album due to its simple buf effective melody. I don't like the sound of the drums on this album.

With "Gods of my world" awaits us another good track with vocals standing out. Notice also quality keyboard work in the end that make the uutro a bit fairy taile.

While I don't particularly enjoy "The Black canvas", it offers interesting Hammond work, both chords and solo. That's not if from the keyboard, "Matter and motion" leads us to a jazzy and playful territory with even some dissonan chords, unheard of a black-metal band!

"Soul sphere" pulls of a great progressive drumming pattern, seems like > 2 hands/feet playing ;-). Also worth netioning is the acoustic mellow part with acoustic guitar.

The last three tracks are unusually progressive, "Four element synchronicity" already has an ambitious name and displays great compositional craft with complex arrangements, moods. Listen to the playful piano-drums duel at the end of the track.

"Liberated" is a progressive metal piece with black metal vocals and great atmospheric piano. "The view of everlast" is the first ballad by Borknagar, melancholic, mellow and radio friendly at the same time.

This album may not be the most favourite for pure metal fans but will please every progressive heart and ears.

 Quintessence by BORKNAGAR album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.21 | 37 ratings

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Quintessence
Borknagar Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by sgtpepper

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 manifesting black metal as well as death metal and progressive traces.

The band got heavier after delivering quite a polished third album.

The start of the album is powerful with a mighty long multiple shriek however, the sound of Hammond and warm vocals will soon remind us that this is above the usual metal league. Vocals have been more elaborated than on this album. "The presence is ominous" has a more memorable motives with semi-prog keyboard synths and prog/death intensive drumming with high and normal vocal. Great level of complexity for a black metal band.

"Ruins of the future" is a Viking black-metal track with ominous guitars and shrieks. The instrumental part with synths and keyboards is brilliant.

"Inner landscape" has undeniably influence in classical or progressive-rock music but that only holds for the keyboards, drums and bass are rather straight rock. "Invicible" and "Genesis torn" are argubly the heaviest tracks on the album with both death-metal and black metal bloody beat-up ;)

The latter has no similarities to the progressive Genesis, on the album with complex drumming, I also like growls that are pretty advanced, maybe slightly hardcore style influenced.

A small epic comes in the end, there is a even a good guitar solo and multiple shifts with clean vocals and growling and top notch drumming.

 The Olden Domain by BORKNAGAR album cover Studio Album, 1997
3.35 | 37 ratings

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The Olden Domain
Borknagar Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by sgtpepper

3 stars With their sophomore effort,we have clean vocals, too and they sound really good. Black metal shrieking and drumming blasts are still employed amptly. In comparison to their first album, you can say that the lads grew in terms of compositions and more developed sound supressing a certain naiveness with their debut album.

"The winterway" is a nod to winter, a great epic track with instrumental sections, cold wild spirit and interesting mellow acoustic-guitar/piano contributed arrangements.

"Om hundrede of pagan tongue" is a soft piece with great keyboards proving how gifted and unconventional from black metal the songwriters were. It is a slow reflective piece of music and ends up quicker than I would like.

When listening to "A tale of the pagan tongue", you have a more Viking feeling and I can also depict a melting ice in the northern nature. Listening to great drumming with tasty changes by Grim.

"To mount and rove" features arguably the most furious moments on the album, blast after a blast and even death- metal patterns. "Grimland domain" has the most extensive keyboard in the foreground, there is no solo but rather keyboard layers in the foreground. Also, until now a rare harmony vocals by the main singer and I suppose the keyboard player can be heard.

"Ascensions to our fathers" is an instrumental piece closer to Pink Floyd than black metal. Love the guitar subtle melody. One might also mislead this song to be a non-technical Opeth piece. It would have been a nice album closer.

 Borknagar by BORKNAGAR album cover Studio Album, 1996
2.91 | 29 ratings

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Borknagar
Borknagar Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by sgtpepper

2 stars This debut album is perhaps the rawest of all by Borknagar. Together with the debut album by Enslaved, In the woods and Ulver,I call them the big four debut albums of progressive back metal. They are also pretty influental for people that are coming from the progressive corner and want to embrace more of extreme metal. The gents were young but showed potential by combining folk and Viking elements apart from normal black metal.

Each track has a melody and motive.

The first track is perhaps the rawest one with starting shrieking and blasting without any previous warning so be warned ;-). The second track is symphonic and a bit pompeous with keyboards and electronic drums.

Having strong chord sequences with slightly bleak mood is another strong weapon here. Although Borknagar do not yet show normal clean vocals other than harmonies, these sound promising.

This is a great album for any black or Viking metal but will not appeal to many proggers due to its brutality and lack of progressivity although it shows potential and ambitions.

 True North by BORKNAGAR album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.92 | 43 ratings

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True North
Borknagar Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by danielmendez1960

5 stars The band lost their longtime lead vocalist Andreas "Vintersorg" Hedlund, veteran guitarist Jens F. Ryland, and drummer Baard Kolstad.The changes in the band's alignment made us doubt what this work would be like but ...Best Borknagar album so far ¬°¬°¬° In "True North" we will find Black - Viking Metal, Progressive Metal, Classic Rock and Folk with excellent production, his most symphonic and inspired work to date and a remarkable CSVortex vocal work.For prog lovers who do not know the band, this is probably their most accessible and remote from black metal and full of seventies keyboards that will delight them("Voices" could easily be an IQ song). Candidate for disco of the year.
 Borknagar by BORKNAGAR album cover Studio Album, 1996
2.91 | 29 ratings

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Borknagar
Borknagar Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Black metal supergroup Borknagar evolved over time into a prog metal force to be reckoned with, but on this debut album they showed a much harsher and more primal form. All the participants were members of significant groups in the Norwegian black metal second wave, and the style of that scene is prominently displayed here, with ample folk influences offering a gentler counterpoint.

Though ōystein G. Brun is the unquestioned leader of the project as its founder and main songwriter, the style here makes the band feel like siblings to early Enslaved, whose Ivar BjÝrnson plays keyboards here. The combination of progressive elements to the music, proggier albums to come in the future, and a shared fascination with Norse mythology means that Borknagar's debut is a worthy choice for any Enslaved fan, as well as any fan of folk-influenced black metal.

 Urd by BORKNAGAR album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.19 | 45 ratings

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Urd
Borknagar Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Second Life Syndrome
Prog Reviewer

2 stars I confess that I'm not a fan of Borknager or of black metal. I was intrigued by a recent review of this album that claimed that this band has been getting more and more melodic and less black metal. I will admit, though, that I enjoyed Borknager's older album "Empiricism", as it contained wonderful folksy melodies and much creativity.

So, I listened to this new album, and I came away unimpressed. Maybe a dozen or more listens would allow this to grow sufficiently, but I don't think I can bring myself to do that. This band is certainly more melodic, but that doesn't stop them from the overuse of the bass pedal or the "white noise" effect of the rhythm guitars. I hate those things. They have also omitted the folksy melodies, and replaced them with, well, nothing. Maybe some vocals harmonies that aren't that impressive? They have also taken away the rather intelligent lyrics, as far as I can tell (it can be hard to decipher them, obviously). So, all points of interest for me are now gone.

What we have, then, is a constant storm of double bass (with no variation at all), a blurriness from the guitars, and some okay vocals. Everything else is lost. On top of that, there is little variation between tracks, so the album itself becomes a blur, too. I'm sure fans of Enslaved and Ne Obliviscaris will love this, but I'm don't.

Thanks to Logos for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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