Saturday, September 21, 2019
Borknagar : " True North"
I will always take what I can get from ICS Vortex. On their 11th album, there are not a great deal of surprises . It continues to find the band refining and maturing their sound. Some songs are more prog than others. In the case of "Up North" it's rock n roll. There is not a ton of black metal on here, but that is fine with me, as I prefer hearing ICS Vortex sing. With a new drummer and 2nd guitarist, they sound once again invigorated. This does not mean this is gong to be the heaviest album. Snarled vocals do appear on "the Fire That Burns", by the chorus Vortex's soaring vocals are back in the spotlight, as they should be. The harsher vocals here remind me of Emperor. It frolics off into more of a folk metal like feel.
The arrangements are not too extravagance so have more in common with folk metal than prog. The harsher vocals are really the only thing give an edge to "Lights'. The vocal melodies are more refined. What they do here is still not as care free as a great deal of folk metal that is often too happy for me.
The song "Wild Father's Heart" is more laid back. It doesn't grab you like the first few songs, however the melody of the chorus is catchier to my ears. I like the more brooding tone of "Mount Rapture" . This might be one of the album's stronger songs. In contrast "Into the White" is not as engaging as the previous song. "Tidal" gets a little more black metal than previous songs, but less engaging of a listen. It is not until later in the song when the gutiar solos come that things are more interesting.
The opening vocal melody to "Voices" sets this song up to be one of the alum's best. This serves as a fine example of how they should approach stepping away from their black metal past if that is the direction they are going to continue to grow in. I will give this album a 9. It excels and never finds the songs being lack luster ,some grab me more than others , but all of them are very well done. It stands well against their body of work and I think fans that have grown with them up to this point will embrace this album too.