Borknagar
Universal


2.0
poor

Review

by TerraIncognita USER (9 Reviews)
March 5th, 2010 | 35 replies | 7,853 views


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Borknagar have finally become too self-indulgent.

2 of 2 thought this review was well written

Borknagar started life as a standard black metal band with an above-average vocalist, but they almost immediately started pushing for something more. The band’s early evolution seemed to suggest that they were looking for a bigger, more progressive sound and that it was only a matter of finding the perfect formula. Their fourth album, Quintessence, seemed to solidify the musical part of that equation, but something was still missing. The missing piece of the puzzle turned out to be vocalist Andreas "Vintersorg" Hedlund. With him as their singer they released their most progressive album yet, Empiricism. While that album did start to hint at a more sterile and restrained sound, it made up for it with its great songwriting and the novelty of a new vocalist. Unfortunately, Universal doesn’t have any of that going for it and it shows.

The first thing that most people will notice is that the sound established on Empiricism is still firmly in tact, but with a few adjustments. The main modification being that the progressive tendencies now firmly dominate the songs at nearly all times. The instant result is songs that lack a lot of the energy and aggression of their predecessors. The secondary result is melodies that aren’t as instant and memorable. These two changes mean that two prominent reasons that a lot of people listened to this band have now been relegated to supporting rolls. Despite this, the album could still have worked if the band were capable of stepping up the elements that they chose to showcase, but they aren’t.

Universal’s proggy melodies just aren’t all that well crafted. They often come off as directionless and meandering, and bog down the songs in the process. This leaves the band’s riffs and vocals to pick up the large amount of slack, but neither is able. In the band’s defense, they’ve never really been known as writers of great riffs but other elements have always negated the problem; not this time. On the other hand, they have been known as a band that seemed to always have a talented vocalist fronting them, but even he falls short. His growls are much more limited than in the past, but are still effective when utilized. The problem lies in his clean vocals which seem to have become much more nasally, and thin. This is in addition to the fact that his clean vocal melodies have become just as bland as every other aspect of the album.

There was a time when Borknagar were delivering exciting and innovative albums. They blended visceral black metal with an ever-increasing progressive influence, and it worked. Around the time of Epic, though, they seemed to be diluting their formula a little too much and this is the result. Universal is an album that sacrifices energy and passion for a sterile, often plodding and directionless, collection of songs that put too much stock into their progressive influence. Sure, the black metal influence is still there but it doesn’t have the ability to breathe life into this collection of songs that sacrificed just a bit too much in the name of a more progressive sound.



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user ratings (69)
Chart.
3.1
good
other reviews of this album
Dembek (4)
I find this album to be much better than "Epic" and definitely better than "Origin" it will not let ...


Comments:Add a Comment 
jingledeath
March 5th 2010



7104 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

Atrocious album. pretty good first review.

TerraIncognita
March 5th 2010



23 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Yeah, they really shit the bed on this one. The music is bland as hell and the vocalist almost seems bored. I think that they finally tried to do too much.

Wizard
March 5th 2010



18747 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

Borknagar have finally become too self-indulgent.

Ummmmm perfect! Couldn't have said any better myself.

Their first few albums are great and they've been stinking more and more with each new release. Excellent first review, welcome to the site!

Digging: Triptykon - Melana Chasmata

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
March 5th 2010



15977 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

I have this downloaded but have yet to listed to it. I probably will for the lulz

Digging: Tiamat - Wildhoney

Hawks
March 5th 2010



33352 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Really good review. Hopefully I'll disagree with it because Borknagar is one of my favorite bands, but I guess we'll have to see.

Willie
Moderator
March 5th 2010



15774 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I've always liked Borknagar, but I kind of assumed that they were going to fall after the over-ambitious Epic.

Digging: Teramaze - Esoteric Symbolism

TheSpirit
March 5th 2010



16657 Comments


i still need to hear this

Digging: Sexdrome - Grown Younger

Wizard
March 6th 2010



18747 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

No you don't Spirit, don't waste your time.

I'm sure glad I just got their s/t in the mail to remind myself of how great these guys once were.

OceanOfWisdom
March 22nd 2010



99 Comments


What a terrible review - It seems that often people go about listening to new albums with too much expectation, and end up psyching themselves out about it - And therefore, could never possibly live up to their expectations.

I personally, knowing Borknagar's audatious history with music - Had no clue what to expect, nor did I wish to, and it's just as well - I was nothing short of blown away when I first heard "Havoc". To me every song on this album is a resounding success.... Especially the song with Vortex guesting in it called "My Domain"...Absolutely glorious Falsetto and Vibrato in Vintersorg's vocals AND in Vortex's.

And I personally LOVE the new style of Vocals Vintersorg is doing, nice change for once in his career. I also appreciate the change to his Screams he's done - Not too overpowering, and just enough so that they are still a prominent part of the album.

IMO - This review was done with FAR too much of a critical eye. - Just because a new album doesnt sound like anything the band has done before, doesnt mean the album sucks. It just means that the person reviewing it had too high of expectations and too much of a pre-determined notion of how the album SHOULD sound.

Shame shame.

Willie
Moderator
March 22nd 2010



15774 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

So, if we were to go into this album with low expectations, and aren't critical of any changes then we'll love it? It doesn't suck simply because it doesn't sound like anything they've done before, it sucks because the changes suck. You are right, though, low expectations and absolutely no critiquing would make listening to this album a wonderfully enjoyable experience.

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
March 22nd 2010



15977 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

it sucks because the changes suck.

Yeah that's pretty much what this album boils down to.

Wizard
March 22nd 2010



18747 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

What a terrible review - It seems that often people go about listening to new albums with too much expectation, and end up psyching themselves out about it - And therefore, could never possibly live up to their expectations.

I love this guy. Seriously, write a review for this if you're unsatisfied. Maybe write another Graveworm.....I mean Sworn review.

OceanOfWisdom
March 23rd 2010



99 Comments


Alright alright I fucking get it - I asked one of the Staff Members to delete that review. Now drop it for Christs sake. You were right and I was wrong - Happy?

Why on earth would I write a review for this album, when its painfully obvious that I'm one of the very few who actually like this album? So you can see me get more flak from everyone? Sorry I'm not that pretentious.

OceanOfWisdom
March 23rd 2010



99 Comments


@Willie...: I never said to have LOW expectations, I said having TOO high an expectation (which CAN set yourself up for dissapointment), and I also never said to not be critical at all. You can still be critical without purposefully setting out to point out and identify every single flaw. Doing that pretty much takes the fun out of listening to anything new. Try having NO expectations whatsoever. Wierd to say I know. But whatever

Wizard
March 23rd 2010



18747 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

Why on earth would I write a review for this album, when its painfully obvious that I'm one of the very few who actually like this album? So you can see me get more flak from everyone? Sorry I'm not that pretentious.


Not at all dude. You should write one because you can......

Seriously, why do you care what others think? We don't care about what you love or dislike, it's your complete lack of a friendly attitude that gets you flak from everybody.

OceanOfWisdom
March 23rd 2010



99 Comments


I dont - It simply irks me when I see people acting like Stuck-up Movie Critics, who cant find anything good in well...anything. And have to over-analyze and over-critique everything. It takes the enjoyment out of everything. Theres no sense in wasting precious time in your life, acting like a snobby-prick who hates everything, when you can enjoy such a wider range (of music in this case) just by being slightly less analytical.

And I'm sorry if I come off over the Internet as being unfriendly - I just dont know how to suck up to anyone I guess. I'm not an asshole in person, just REALLY honest. And a lot of times over the Internet that's misconstrued as being unfriendly.

Willie
Moderator
March 23rd 2010



15774 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

You don't have to suck up, you just have to learn some (Internet) social skills. If a person is a fan of a band and their new album dissapoints for whatever reason, it's not them being overly critical it's them being a dissapointed fan and writing about it.

OceanOfWisdom
March 23rd 2010



99 Comments


Good point - Im just glad someone recognizes that.

And noted; I'm gonna work more on my Internet Social Skills....

I may also rewrite my review for Gjallarhorn in place of the Sworn (Graveworm) review once they delete it. LOL. I thought I had done Gjallarhorn great justice, and Sputnik freaked out and made me resign in and it Deleted it.

Wizard
March 24th 2010



18747 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

And as the nice guy I usually am, I apologize for being a douche about the review. This is a community driven website so constructive criticism should always be dished out in a friendly way.

TerraIncognita
March 31st 2010



23 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Yeah this review wasn't written to try to be some snooty elite reviewer or something. It was written because I've liked all of their old stuff and this was a hige disappointment.



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