Examining the latest Borknagar album
Well, it’s been four years and that’s about how long I wait for a new album from a band before I start freaking out. Following up a stellar performance from the recording of Urd, Vintersorg, Vortex, and the rest of the gang have gotten together to record Winter Thrice. Borknagar is a longstanding favorite of mine. If not in my top five, definitely in my top ten. Their science/nature approach to songwriting is majestic and the harmonizing melody between the two singers is beautiful. So, let’s get down to it, shall we?
Late in 2015, they released The Rhymes of the Mountain as a lead single. It is probably the worst song on the album. Make no mistake, there is absolutely nothing wrong with this song, it’s just that the album is so powerful that is completely eclipses this song. This song showcases a strong effort from both singers very well.
This was released the day of the album release (22 January 2016) and it is the title track. It’s very strong and the rest of the album continues on with the trend of getting better as the album draws on. This song features a new style of clean singing that I am still unable to decipher who is delivering it. Is it Vintersorg or Vortex? Either way it sounds amazing and that particular style is shown at various times in the album.
Cold Runs the River is the third track. It is probably the heaviest and most aggressive on the album. It is very fast-paced and contains some pretty harsh vocals. It is probably the most “black metal’ song on the entire album as much of this album is decisively progressive in nature. It also features a really sweet guitar solo. Panorama is the softest song on the album, virtually featuring no harsh vocals and very progressive in style.
Borknagar used to do this thing where the fifth song of every album was a piano instrumental. When Chaos Calls begins, it carries that allusion to the old piano songs but quickly erupts into a fury of speed and ambition. “Erodent”, which means erosive (pertaining to erosion in particular), takes off where track #5 leaves off and continues with yet another seven minute surge of energy.
“Noctilucent” refers to a type of cloud that is observable between 50 and 70 degrees north or south of the equator. This picture does a pretty good job of showing what it looks like. At 3:54, it’s the shortest song on the album. It’s relatively mellow and reminiscent of some of the sounds that Universal and Urd went through as an obvious change instigated by the recording of Origin. Terminus is an amazing final song to the album. It begins with this energy that is intense and powerful. It features more of that exceptionally good clean singing from…Vortex? I’m going to go with Vortex on this one.
Seriously, do yourself a favor and check this album out. If you’re a fan of Borknagar, clean singing, or just good progressive music, you’ll really dig it. Also, Steven Wilson and Megadeth released albums as well on the same day and they are worth your time!
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