Borknagar- Winter Thrice
FFO- Progressive Black Metal, Folk Metal
Borknagar is one of the most legendary names in Norwegian Metal. As a supergroup powerhouse that is most notable for featuring ICS Vortex and Vintersorg on shared lead vocals (Vortex providing bass guitar as well), the band has become a very collective outlet for the group to share their Norwegian Pagan Ritualistic music. Winter Thrice is the 10th album for the band and hearkens back to more of the Norwegian Folk Metal side of the band that has been missing for the last couple albums (that said, Borknagar has yet to ever release a disappointing album) yet, also make for their proggiest album to date as well.. Winter Thrice just may be the best thing the band has ever released! Let's find out why!
The album starts with the lead single from the album, The Rhymes Of The Mountain. This is collectively the strongest single from the band to date. It features everything that makes the band strong. Soaring clean vocals, evil screams, majestic music that makes you feel like you are in the heart of a Norwegian winter (maybe not so much in the style of Immortal, but you get the idea. Winter Thrice is the next track starting with haunting keyboards before coming in with a double bass driven assault. The song features a great contrast of clean vocals and Progressive and folk elements for the majority of the song and pure Black Metal and screams as the chorus. A great song to name the album after. Cold Runs The River is much more of a mid-tempo song to start then just blasts into Black Metal goodness before a very gorgeous chorus. The song features a choir type background vocals throughout that hit in all the right spots. 3/4ths of the way through features a Led Zepplin style guitar riff and guitar solo mixed with the Black Metal screams that makes for an unexpected, but gracious change. Panorama has the feeling of the last couple albums with Prog style keyboards throughout leading into a nice, off-time, verse riff and shared dual vocals. For those that love the Prog-Driven side of the band, this is definitely a song that will hit home for you. When Chaos Calls starts with a short piano break before leading to a blast beat driven, clean vocal attack (nothing is better than blast beats over clean vocals done right). While there are some screams, the song is more focused on the cleans. The middle of the song leads to a nice, instrumental interlude featuring clean guitar before leading to one of the most majestic moments on the whole album and ending with a nice blend of cleans and screams. Erodent starts with desolate style clean guitar that leads to amazing clean vocals, proggy keyboards, and a killer mid-tempo battle theme. When the song picks up it goes heavy on the blast beats and Black Metal elements and has a gorgeous and evil chorus. Noctilucent is the "ballad" of the album. The song doesn't feature much vocals, but they are all clean and beautiful. The music behind it is very majestic sounding and gives a nice breather for the last couple songs to come. Terminus is by far the best song on the album. Starting off with a quick drum fill leading to a Black Metal driven Assault that has a bit of an early to mid era Opeth and even some Soilwork feel to it. The chorus is slower but sounds absolutely grand. This song has the best use of the of the synths that not the typical keyboard sounds. And absolute highlight of the band's career. The closing track, Dominant Winds, sounds very desolate as well with some wind sound affects that make you feel like you are alone right before the force of double bass driven, grandiose clean vocals, and Black Metal riffing takes place. The middle of the song is another highlight of the album that is both beautiful and evil. Roughly 3/4ths of the way through hits a big Opeth/Goblin style keyboard instrumental section before kicking into the grand finale of the album. Another great mix of the cleans and screams. It ends with keyboard becoming a force with a mid-tempo evil riff leading to a slower clean guitar and bass that slowly fades away making you want to start the whole album cycle over again.
In short, Borknagar has come back with a vengeance! Winter Thrice is the perfect mixture of Prog, Black Metal, Folk, and Melodies/Harmonies. Winter Thrice is the perfect starting point for getting into the band. Any direction you go from here is the way to go. For those that want more substance out of your Black Metal or want your Prog to be way more evil, Borknagar is the band for you! This will be regarded as one of the best albums of 2016!
Borknagar- Winter Thrice available January 29th, 2015 via Century Media Records!