Borknagar - Urd

Expectations are high for this one. Not only Borkganar are going thru a very creative period in their long and prodigious career, which culminated in the remarkable “Universal” issued two years ago, they’ve also enlisted the services of the talented and unmistakable Simen Hestnæs aka ICS Vortex for bass and vocal duties. Hestnæs actually sung on “The Archaic Curse” and “Quintessence” albums, which are still ranked among the best efforts of Borknagar’s celebrated discography. As expected “Urd” doesn’t disappoint, in fact the Norwegians turn up with what may just be the album of their career.
This new effort sees the band continue in their crusade to merge a refined and epic black metal with some progressive overtones, displaying a stunning versatility with grim and fierce riffs contrasting nicely with epic and memorable prog melodies. There are countless enthralling peaks here, but look to both “Roots” and “Frostrite” to witness Borknagar’s stunning ability to craft some truly epic and evocative tunes. While the first treads into atmospheric and epic metal with an impressive elegance, the second is probably their most magnificent and delightful journey into 80’s prog to date. It merges Hammond sounds with blistering guitar melodies and Vortex’s high baritone vocals add an epic twist to proceedings.
With Hestnæs back in the fold, sharing the vocalizations with Vintersorg and Lars A. Nedland this new record displays a startling diversity in the singing department as well, with each unique vocal style complementing one another perfectly well.
“Urd” is simply a magnificent achievement for the Norwegians and deserves your undivided attention. (8.4/10)

Alex Grimm