Released: 2000, Century Media Records
Borknagar...a weird band name that sounds more like some kind of meat product then a band. These guys are from Norway and are categorized, by many, as black metal. Imagine that eh? Black metal from Norway ha! Well you can stop with the clichés right there! This band is beyond black metal and basically defies convenient tags. I'm not sure if the black metal purists out there would even bother calling Borknagar black metal. To me they lie somewhere between black and probably power metal with some atmospheric sounds added for effect. That's probably why I was so taken with this CD. This is NOT typical black metal at all and is one of the more original sounding pieces of metal I've heard in a while.
If this would of been all screeching vocals, blast beats and cheesy "evil" keyboards I wouldn't of even bothered with it. Sure, some of these elements are there, but alone they do not define what this band is about. If this was only screeching vocals with little or no melody and over the top blast beats I would of been very disappointed. Even though this is melodic and different it is not easy listening by any means. The band does manage to stay melodic even at their most vicious moments. The song on this CD that totally blew me away was "The Presence Is Ominous" - mainly for the vocal parts. It sounds like there are three vocal lines going on here. One clean and mid-ranged, the other singing high and the third screaming bloody murder. Believe it or not this melds into something that I think is unique, insane, intense and melodic all at the same time. The music on this one is also WAY COOL. It reminded me a little of Cynic for it's technical playing. Another track that caught my ear was "Colossus" which also has impressive vocals. The clean voice near the beginning fit's over the band's huge sound very nicely. It's not often that you have a so-called black metal band with someone in it that can sing! The backing black metal styled vocals over the clean sound really good. "Icon Dreams" and the CD closer "Revolt" are another two of the tracks that feature the varied vocal styles, it's not done as good as on "The Presence..." but is still some of the better tracks. The only song that is not of much interest to me is "Inner Landscape" because there are no guitars in it at all! This is just a keyboard/drum song that didn't do anything for me. That's about the only complaint I have about this CD...well the album cover art is a little strange. It kinda looks cool and futuristic but it also looks like they had about six different covers and they overlaid them into one big undecipherable mess.
If you are interested in more information on this band, visit their website at http://www.Borknagar.com
and watch our CD Store for this to be in stock in the coming weeks.