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Borknagar
Universal

Company: Self Released
Release: 2010
Genre: Extreme, Death
Reviewer: Raising Iron

  • Found a sweet spot few can unearth



  • Alright, let me just say right off, despite their somewhat spotty back catalog and an endless array of style changes, Borknagar have never failed to surprise their fan base always intent on exploring new territory regardless of what the flavor of the day is. They left that behind with their blackened roots long ago, and with their newest release, Universal, the guys have found a progressive/extreme/blackened/viking/folk (ha!) sweet spot few can unearth.

    Seriously folks, this is metal of a higher order. Everything about this album is right, from the blast beats swelling underneath strung-out melodies to the effectively placed choral "oohs and aahs", it's hard to find a flaw. Detractors will point out the near-absent black tremolos and rasps, but this Borknagar is a far cry from where they started. Universal is an album reminiscent of other genial releases in the last couple of years (see Opeth's Watershed, Enslaved's Vertebrae, or Ihsahn's After), with its purposeful exploration of undulating textures and moods within a single song.

    The Norwegians, through a mix of clean and growled vocals and plenty of keyboards sprinkled throughout, achieve their goal of weighty and introspectively virulent metal, yet at the same time remaining classy and refined. Eight tracks at 47 minutes is none too overbearing either, the songs clipping along nicely taking you along their destined courses, allowing for enough to enjoy the aural vibes without getting repetitive or boring. The fourth track, "For A Thousand Years" reminds one somewhat of Mastodon in their current incarnation, but even more full-flavored and textured. The opening track sets the tone for the entire album with its large, ever-moving themes, and the epic "Abrasion Tide" will carry you through a multitude of swirling currents settling in moments to regain your grip.

    This is definitely a highlight of 2010 and a nice surprise from the long-running outfit who've now found themselves on a new label (after 6 albums Century Media are no longer in the picture) and maybe that's just the catalyst the band needed to take this next step into the upper echelon of extreme metal.


    Maximum Metal Rating Legend - Click for Full Details
    5 Excellent - Buy it and say a prayer to the metal gods that you were tuned on to this masterpiece. A classic.
    4-4.5 Great - Almost perfect records but there's probably a clunker or a lacking somewhere to keep it from perfection. You won't feel bad about dropping some bones on these.
    3.5 Good - Most of the record is good, but there may be some filler. This is the OK range where you'd search for the record on sale or used.
    3 Average - Some good songs, some bad ones at about a half/half ratio. Could show skills but be dull overall. Redeeming qualities for indy bands are effort and passion. Majors that don't try or suck outright end up here.
    2-2.5 Fair - Worth a listen, but best obtained by collectors. There is much better metal out there.
    1-1.5 Bad - Major problems with music, lyrics, production, etc.
    0 Terrible or an otherwise waste of your life and time.

    Note: Reviews are graded from 0-5, anything higher or not showing is from our old style. Scores, however, do not reveal the important features. The written review that accompanies the ratings is the best source of information regarding the music on our site. Reviewing is opinionated, not a qualitative science, so scores are personal to the reviewer and could reflect anything from being technically brilliant to gloriously cheesy fun.

    Demos and independent releases get some slack since the bands are often spent broke supporting themselves and trying to improve. Major releases usually have big financial backing, so they may be judged by a heavier hand. All scores can be eventually adjusted up or down by comparison of subsequent releases by the same band. We attempt to keep biases out of reviews and be advocates of the consumer without the undo influence of any band, label, management, promoter, etc.

    The best way to determine how much you may like certain music is to listen to it yourself.



    ALL FULL REVIEWS FOR: BORKNAGAR
    CD
    TITLE BAND
    DOR
    REVIEWER DATE
    UniversalBorknagar
    2010
    Raising Iron6/15/2010
    UrdBorknagar
    2012
    Greg Watson3/30/2012
    Winter ThriceBorknagar
    2016
    Greg Watson7/24/2016


    ALL SUMMARY REVIEWS FOR: BORKNAGAR

    No Summary reviews currently exist for them.


    ALL INTERVIEWS FOR: BORKNAGAR
    INTERVIEW BAND INTERVIEWER DATE


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