Friday, January 3, 2014

Borknagar - Urd

This is my first review on this blog and my first album review in almost 10 here goes.

This is a special album for me.  I've been a fan of Borknagar since their first album and have followed their career closely.  They have made changes to their sound but I see that as progression in this case.  They have also had some of extreme metal's biggest names front this band and each album has its own sound and feel.  That being said, this album is the Borknagar album I have waited for.  This album features the vocal talents of not only current and long time vocalist Vintersorg handling all grim as well as clean vocals but also features Simen Hestnæs (ICS Vortex) on bass and clean vocals.  Of course you know he sang with the band after the departure of Garm in the late 90s.  Along with Lars Are Nedland providing his signature backing vocals, this is the vocal line-up that any Borknagar fan could ask for....unless you believe in miracles and are waiting for Garm to re-join the band!

The songs on this album remind me of the entire Borknagar catalog but also seems the perfect follow up to "Universal."  They are structured for a perfect flow and are full of melody and hooks.  The guitars are extremely prominent with the keys providing just the right mix of old progressive rock and classic metal to provide the perfect atmosphere.  The album starts with "Epochalypse", a speedy song fitting for an intro but also giving you a taste of the epic songs to follow.  "Roots" continues the momentum where you begin to feel the nature and earthiness of this album.  "The Earthling" is just about the best song they have ever done...period!  With the slow emotional beginning this song just builds to this climax of emotion.  This song is where Mr. V. really shows his vocal talents.  The lyrics just touch home for me.

The latter half of the album is just as strong with songs like "Mount Regency" picking the pace back up but also being a varied song.  The vocals, once again, stand out with Mr. V. and ICS Vortex sharing the vocal duties.  "Frostrite" continues the flow with Vortex showing his beautiful clean vocals.  This vocals on this song reminds me of something from The Archaic Course.  "The Winter Eclipse" is the longest song on the album, clocking in a 8:45 this is another song that shows the absolute talent of this band.  Rounding out the album is the proggy "In a Deeper World"  where Vortex is the shining star with his soaring clean vocals.

This is not an album you just listen to.  You have to experience this album.  This is not the kick your teeth in metal album.  Instead what you get here are songs that flow together to make the album a musical journey about nature and life instead of just a collection of songs.


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