Friday, December 11, 2015

Borknagar : "Winter Thrice"

Over the years the band's evolution away from their black metal beginning to an elaborate sprawl of viking folk metal has always seemed like the next logical step in their growth.  Despite ICS Vortex only lending his golden pipes to one song, "Universal" has always been my favorite album by these guys, so this album joins "Urd" as having some big snow shoes to fill. lThey have not dialed back their grandiose nature , every thing is done to excess while still serving the song which is what separates them from many prog metal bands who show up to shred with little regard for the finer points of song writing.

The title track scales things back in places to create a more intimate space between the vocals and the listener. This is not to say they fore go all metal aspirations to create this as this song has it's more venomous moments which come much closer to black metal than the opener. The clean vocals have a very relaxed Pink Floydish croon to them that bands such as Opeth and Enslaved have also implemented in the past. They get meaner for the more snarling "Cold Runs the River" which is first song that makes me to the casual head bang at my's a more rhythmic nod of approval. The clean vocals also have balls to them. The song pretty much has everything you could want form a more melodic form of metal as it even ebbs down to a more introspective section  towards the end.

Not as wacky as something Arcturus might do ,  "Panorama" still indulges heavier in their more flowery prog impulses. When bands dip this deeply into fantasy land in a way that frolics like this it always makes me think of Spinal Tap's "Stonehenge". "When Chaos Calls" makes me think of what Dimmu might have sounded like if the "In Sorte Diaboli" line up had stayed intact, but but decided to go in a much more melodic direction. If it was not for the rasped vocals to balance things out they would have gone in an almost power-metal turn on the slowed paced of "Erodent". Then two and a half minutes in some blast beats take the intensity up a notch before they swing back into the dramatic melody and then the song weaves it way around these dynamics. I suppose you could call "Noctilucent" a viking metal power ballad. The guitar solo in this one really made my ears perk up.

Form the title alone I knew "Terminus" was going to be heavier. It's pretty much a rule in metal if the song title sounds like it could also be the name of a super villain you gotta get heavier with it. Two minutes in they begin bookending the heavy sections with more melodic portions. They throw a lot at you here and it takes a few listens to fully digest it. They close the album on the proggy side of folk metal with "Dominant Winds" . Rasped vocals do come in to chant the song 's title in the lyrics, but over all this song seems to be lighter in tone than most of the album, though this album never feels all that dark to me to begin with. There is a wide range of vocals colors Ulver main-man Garm guests on two songs to add to this spectrum. Overall I'll give this a 9.5 due to the talent employed in it's construction, though remain unsure if this is something I can really heard my self listening to on days that it doesn't snow.

This album comes out January 22nd on Century Media .


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