Borknagar - Urd
Century Media
Symphonic/Folk Metal with Black Metal influences
9 songs (52:57)
Release year: 2012
Borknagar, Century Media
Reviewed by Khelek
Album of the month

Borknagar has always been one of those bands that have a unique sound, created using a range of different influences and the intuition of how to put them together in interesting ways. These guys have a long history of making interesting music, so needless to say my expectations were quite high when I heard that the follow-up to 2010's excellent Universal included the return of ICS Vortex to the fold. I am happy to say that Borknagar does not disappoint here.

One thing that is important to understand about the music of Borknagar is that there are a lot of layers to their sound, so it can take several listens to get the full experience of their music. For me personally this is music that I really have to focus on to enjoy. The first track, Epochalypse, is a pretty standard symphonic metal track with some black metal influences. Now I will admit that this song does get just a little monotonous, but fortunately Roots opens with epic sounding drums and melodic yet heavy guitars. The harsh vocals fit with the piano and wandering, melodic leads, sounding like something Agalloch would do. The clean vocals make their appearance soon after. The clean vocals of keyboardist Lars Nedland are used a lot on this album as usual, so if you're not a fan of his higher-pitched singing style, then you're either going to have to look past it to the music, or skip this album altogether. There are few songs on this album where they are not used in a big way, whether it's for a soaring chorus or a melodic verse. The Beauty Of Dead Cities is probably the best example of his talent, both in the keyboard and vocal departments. It is a song that is both epic and symphonic, though completely without the growled vocals and black metal elements.

Of course I have to mention the guitar work of founder Øystein G. Brun and Jens Ryland on this album as well. The tone of the guitar riffs often have that black metal edge to them, but there are also many softer passages and some very energetic and memorable solos. It's really a feast for the ears of any guitar aficionado. The Earthling starts off slow with clean guitars and the deep vocals of Vintersorg, opening into a more symphonic sound with big riffs. The guitar soloing in this song actually sounds like a throwback to something like Metallica in the early 90s.

If you can get the limited edition of this album, I highly recommend it because it contains two excellent tracks, Age Of Creation and a cover of Metallica's My Friend Of Misery, which is extremely well-done and I think really fits with the theme of this album. They really did the song in their own style with the keyboards of Nedland and the growls of Vintersorg sounding great with the heavy guitars. The guitar tones are a bit different too, and some of the solos towards the end are simply awesome.

In short, this is what those of us familiar with Borknagar have come to expect from this talented group of individuals. The skills of every member of the band are used to their full extent, which is quite refreshing. It is, of course, music that makes some demands on the attention span of the listener, but I believe that some of the best music has details and layers of sound that are only apparent if you just put everything else aside and focus on the music. An extremely well put together album that fits with the rest of the Borknagar catalog very nicely.

Killing Songs :
Roots, The Beauty of Dead Cities, The Earthling, Frostrite
Khelek quoted 90 / 100
Other albums by Borknagar that we have reviewed:
Borknagar - True North reviewed by Goat and quoted 85 / 100
Borknagar - The Archaic Course reviewed by Khelek and quoted 90 / 100
Borknagar - Universal reviewed by Kyle and quoted 86 / 100
Borknagar - Epic reviewed by Jeff and quoted 95 / 100
Borknagar - Quintessence reviewed by Danny and quoted 78 / 100
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