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Empiricism - Borknagar

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Genre: Hard Rock & Metal - Heavy Metal / Artist: Borknagar / Audio CD released 2001-11-12 at Century Media/EMI

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      02.04.2008 11:15
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      Borknagar's fifth album (2001).

      Borknagar's first album with current vocalist Vintersorg continues to evolve their sound ever so slightly from the early releases, potentially attracting as many newcomers as alienating black metal fans through its lighter, more progressive metal direction. The black metal foundation is still prominent, but in a less harsh and more overtly melodic style than before, particularly coming after the more extreme 'Quintessence,' but by now the band's combination of heavier riffs with lighter touches has reached a natural synthesis somewhere in-between, lacking the compelling intensity of earlier albums but sounding incredibly distinctive.

      From a technical point of view, Vintersorg is the finest vocalist the band has ever had, and his operatic folk singing style works perfectly towards the band's themes, rather than against as his predecessor Vortex tended to. His opening lines in the excellent 'Gods of My World' - "The gods are great. I am the greatest!" - are very revealing if you opt to take them in an arrogant, personal manner, but most of this album is dominated by Vintersorg's dynamic clean singing which may be reason enough for some to avoid. It's a shame that his black metal rasp, used frequently in most songs, doesn't have the same force or intensity as his predecessors and sounds rather generic atop the lighter metal, but this continued alteration between the two styles at least allows the singer to be amusingly credited "clean and grim vocals" in the album booklet.

      The predominant sound in this album is more or less a continuation of 'The Archaic Course,' veering around the intentional deviation of 'Quintessence,' but new keyboard player Lars Nedland adds a more majestic and often distractingly prominent melodic edge, his brief solo in track three and melodies overpowering the guitar riffs in many songs only serving to lessen the impact, as further evidenced by the greater success of songs like 'Gods of My World' that are led by Øystein Brun's lead guitar. In an interesting turn that helps avoid the monotony of earlier albums, Nedland comes into his own with the less metallic and more openly prog 'Inherit the Earth,' as well as providing a pleasant piano interlude with 'Matter & Motion' before pianos tinkle gently over the atmospheric metal of 'Liberated.'

      Metal fans deterred by Borkagnar's progressive label will be glad to hear that all of these prog tendencies lie in the actual make-up of the sound itself, rather than elaborate song structures. No song exceeds six minutes and all rely on repetition to some degree, but it's also true that this album marks a noticeable shift away from melodic black metal towards something lighter and less stable, not particularly folky (certainly not to the extent of the Viking metal debut), but seeking out new ways to express nature and the elements through a metal performance. It's something the band may never precisely nail, but their dedication is inspiring.

      1. The Genuine Pulse
      2. Gods of My World
      3. The Black Canvas
      4. Matter & Motion
      5. Soul Sphere
      6. Inherit the Earth
      7. The Stellar Dome
      8. Four Element Synchronicity
      9. Liberated
      10. The View of Everlast

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  • Product Details

    Disc #1 Tracklisting
    1 Genuine Pulse
    2 Gods Of My World
    3 Black Canvas
    4 Matter And Motion
    5 Soul Sphere
    6 Inherit The Earth
    7 Stellar Dome
    8 Four Element Synchronicity
    9 Liberated
    10 View Of Everlast