Borknagar - The Archaic Course review


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Band: Borknagar
Album: The Archaic Course
Release date: October 1998

01. Oceans Rise
02. Universal
03. The Witching Hour
04. The Black Token
05. Nocturnal Vision
06. Ad Noctum
07. Winter Millennium
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.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 10
Songwriting: 9
Originality: 10
Production: 8

Written by TheAmazingP | 06.02.2009


Guest review disclaimer:
This is a guest review, which means it does not necessarily represent the point of view of the MS Staff.


Comments: 2   Visited by: 60 users
25.03.2009 - 08:42
Liver Failure
This is simply one of the most amazing albuns i've ever heard. ''Winter Millenium'' still makes me travel.. ''Ocean's Rise'' its already epic to me, and the acoustic version in Origin gave me a good nostalgic feeling..
This album is clearly the most ''appelative'' of their work, for the catchyness of the songs, but the quality is indisputable. Worth listen everytime, melodic black metal with metaphysical lyrics XD.. awesome as hell..

member of the true crusade against old school heavy metal, early 80s thrash, NWOBHM, traditional doom, first and second wave black metal, old school death metal, US power metal, 70s prog rock and atmospheric doomsludgestoner. o/
04.05.2011 - 12:16
M C Vice
Sounds like a hybrid of Ancient and Arcturus.
Also, is it Vortex doing the harsh vocals? It sounds like someone kicked Shagrath in the nuts.
"Another day, another Doug."
"I'll fight you on one condition. That you lower your nipples."

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