Borknagar - The Archaic Course review
|Album:||The Archaic Course|
|Release date:||October 1998|
01. Oceans Rise
03. Witching Hour
04. The Black Token
05. Nocturnal Vision
06. Ad Noctum
07. Winter Millenium
08. Fields Of Long Gone Presence
In general, "The Archaic Course" and "Olden Domain" are two different drops from the same pond. Both albums are totally "Borknagar", with all the chill of powerful riffs, expressive vocals and the warmth of emotions. However, this time something's changed. Judging from the first track of this album, it can easily be assumed that Borknagar actually broke the bonds of their previous eccentric black metal expressions and moved towards a more progressive direction, if it can be named so.
The first noteworthy part of this album's character is the absence of Kristoffer G. Rygg (Garm) and his replacement by Simen Hestnaes (Vortex). That's not disappointing though. The new vocalist does a great job, although a bit different, emphasizing more on spirited, clear vocals. From the icy and somehow claustrophobic sceneries where Garm had taken us with "Olden Domain", Hestnaes leads us to impressing and fiery landscapes now. Either by sounding melancholic ("Oceans Rise") or impressively dynamic ("Universal"), Simen's voice is like a constant emotional attack. While Garm's firm vocals elegantly loomed like a god over the frozen Borknagar's domain, Vortex's voice is part of their inner fire, bouncing from tone to tone and never-resting in its own strength.
Now, what can someone say about Borknagar's guitars? You can always listen to them and yet not always comprehend their chaotic nature. Maybe it's the general production or just their sound, but it doesn't really matter at all. The riffs are feverish and ecstatic with obvious folk origins as always. However, throughout the album, the tense freezes to give its place to wonderful acoustic parts, just to build up once again until ecstasy. Adding to the vast atmosphere, Ivar Bjarnson's synths come to fit perfectly with all the other elements. As for the charismatic playing of Vortex(bass) and Grim(drums), it's definitely indisputable. It is actually a surprise to hear a bunch of talented artists adding their own piece of personality to an album, becoming one musically.
And that's the beauty of Borknagar: no matter what their always evolving style and their rather unstable line-up is like, they've managed to create their character, that has no match. Before this album, it was cold. Now it's more open-minded, almost universal. "The Archaic Course" is not only a hymn to the night and its mysteries, but also to creation and to Mother Nature, that always inspires Oystein G. Brun, the band's mastermind and main composer. As for rating, it doesn't really matter for Borknagar, since they have no peers stylistically. In general, it's a great album, that suits their talent and it's definitely worth a listen.
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