Borknagar | Interview with Øystein G. Brun


Norway’s Borknagar is a band that blurs the borderlines between various styles such as Folk, Black-Metal and Progressive Rock, a culmination of all the members’ eclectic influences that completely defies any sort of practical categorization.
To a certain extent nobody can truly anticipate the content and feel of a new Borknagar album, yet one of the rumours that floats around the release of their upcoming studio album is that it marks a return to the sound of “The Archaic Curse” and “Quintessence”.
Does mastermind and guitarist Øystein G. Brun care to shed some light on the subject and dissipate any misconceptions around their highly anticipated new record?

“Well, the case is not that I want to repeat myself by doing a second “The Archaic Course” or “Quintessence”, which is simply against my musical beliefs so to speak. But in the same way as we previously have been inspired by a lot of different musical styles, this time around we have allowed ourselves to be inspired by ourselves.
The new album will be a big leap forward for the band musically but at the same time the album is heavily inspired by our work on the late 90’s or early 2000. That was the period of the band where we were musically extremely focused and some of that feeling is what we try to build this new record on. I have just recorded the main parts of the guitars and I can assure you that it will be a really powerful album in all aspects, not circling about- this time it is straight on target!”

Perhaps the return of former members, guitarist Jens Ryland and bassist Erik Tiwaz to the ranks of Borknagar have led people to speculate about a return to the more heavy and dark sonority that characterized your initial works right?

“Yeah, but the idea of making a heavier and darker album this time around has been part of my plan for many years now, even before we did “Origin”.
With “Origin” we closed a chapter or you might say a musical journey and with the new album we are about to start a new musical endeavour. So the new album will surely represent a fresh start and we are definitely sounding vital as ever before. Of course the return of Jens Ryland and Erik Tiwaz will surely make our mission even more enjoyable for us and for our fans.”

So how does it feel to be working again with almost the entire line-up that recorded “Empiricism”? What kind of ideas are the rejoined members bringing to the table this time around?

“It feels good! The “Empiricism” line-up is definitely the most dynamic and powerful line-up we have ever had so it is a pleasure to work with the guys again. What they bring to that table is basically their unique musical handcraft ship. I still write and arrange the majority of the material but the guys, basically the entire band, make their mark on the album. I think our previous album stands as a testimony of their musical qualities.”

The new album also marks the debut of new drummer Dave Kinkade of Arsis fame, who jumped in last year following the departure of their long-time drummer Asgeir Mickelson due to musical differences.
What has it been like working with Dave Kinkade, who I believe is the second drummer recruited outside Norway following a brief stint of UK drummer and current Crippled Black Phoenix member Justin Greaves a few years back?

“First of, Justin was just helping us out on the tour with Cradle of Filth back in the late nineties, he was never a member of the band. We talked about having him in the band but it never happened as we were a bit too far divided musically.
Anyway, working with Dave is just a pleasure. He has already done his work in studio by recording the drums and it turned out very well. We worked very nice together and I can assure you that the result is nothing but amazing. Musically he have adapted very well into the musical direction we are heading.”

The upcoming album follows-up their entirely acoustic release “Origin”, which was one of Øystein G. Brun’s long-time ambitions finally materialized three years ago. The idea of recording an entire album strictly on an acoustic format might seem odd at first but Øystein have always professed in interviews that Borknagar’s compositions were predominantly written on an acoustic guitar as the title specifically states.
Do you intend to follow that kind of approach again on a future occasion or it was a one-time thing with Borknagar like an ending to a cycle?
Would you ever envisage doing a similar thing on your own in the future?

“We have no plans to do a second acoustic album. For me it was a long time vision to do something like that. It was a great experience and it turned out to be a really personal album for me but and I am really glad we did it. But in the end of the day we are a metal band and that’s where our focus will be in the future. At least as far as I can see into the future...
Yeah actually, I have been considering doing more acoustic music on my own. I have no concrete plans right now, but doing more acoustic music in the future is definitely something I would love to do. But in that case, it will be a personal travel for me...”

So what more can you tell us about the new album? Have you already chosen a title for it?

“Well, as mentioned it will be very powerful, heavy and dark somehow. We still have some progressive elements and variety of musical influences but, personally I feel this album is much more sharpened when it comes to the expression than we have done in ages. With both “Epic” and “Origin” we were a bit off the track, fully intentional and I would not miss that, but this time around we are back to the core musically speaking. I am very excited myself and as I did record the guitars the other day I feel that this is by far the best and most complete work we have done to date. And listening to the rough mixes right now it just strikes me that this is something which going to be huge musically speaking and something that have never been done before.
It’s music that only BORKNAGAR is able to conceive...haha…
We have some ideas for the title but nothing that we can confirm at this moment. The album will consist of about 8 or 9 songs, 45 minutes of ethereal “BORKNAGAR-music”.

The new album will practically mark a whole new chapter for band, because along with the line-up restructuring there’s also a new label, namely Indie Recordings behind Borknagar following an entire career built on Century Media. What prompted the change of labels?

“Different reasons. First of we have been on Century Media for quite some years and I was getting a feeling that we were heading for a dead end with that label. We have achieved a lot and had a lot of good times with Century Media throughout the years but, there was really a time for a change. In the end of the day, Indie Recordings came up with the best overall package, so we simply had a better alternative way to go with Indie Recordings. And besides, it is really a pleasure to have a label that understands the band the way Indie Recordings do and fully allows us to bloom in relations to our own principles. Besides, I have known the guys on Indie Recordings for years and I trust them being the best record company around. I believe it is just a matter of time before Indie Recordings will be one of the most important labels for this kind of music around...”

So finally, what can fans expect from Borknagar in 2009 besides a new release?

“First off, all our focus right now is the new album to make sure it will become a classic effort. We have also confirmed doing Wacken this year and that will be fun. Apart from that we’ll just keep the wheels spinning and see what comes around. I am sure we’ll make our mark on the metal scene in 2009. So beware!”

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