Borknagar
Urd


2.5
average

Review

by lifter USER (2 Reviews)
April 27th, 2012 | 16 replies


Release Date: 2012 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Borknagar has stuck to the Borknagar formula on [I]Urd[/I]. It’s not a bad formula per se, but one that could use some freshening up with a more collective approach to songwriting.

Seventeen years is a long time. You could probably count the number of bands that have managed to maintain their freshness over such an extended period on two hands. Despite the official return of ICS Vortex into the fold, Borknagar, like so many other bands at this point in their career, seems to be short on new ideas. Their ninth full-length, Urd, is a decent enough effort, but there is little on the album that truly gets the blood racing or the head banging.

Borknagar exists in my portable music player as one of the foremost examples of a genre called “Norwegian Prog.” These are groups that have emerged out of Norway’s excellent black metal scene, adding an emphasis on melody, technicality, Viking metal grooves, and a characteristic mix of grim and operatic vocals with that ever so slight Norwegian accent. Over the lifespan of Borknagar, the band’s founder and main songwriter Øystein G. Brun has managed to gradually collect like-minded musicians who are major creative forces in bands that also fall into the “Norwegian Prog” category. With the addition of ICS Vortex (Arcturus, ex-Dimmu Borgir), who joins Vintersorg (Vintersorg) and Lars Nedland (Solefald), there is plenty of songwriting talent in the Borknagar stable.

And yet, I think this is exactly where Urd falls short. There are very few passages that stand out"the album just kind of floats along unnoticed until the horribly inane chorus at the end “The Earthling” and then the amazingly kickass “Frostrite” (which, significantly, was composed by ICS Vortex). Seven of the nine songs on the album were written by Brun (the other exception is the Nedland-penned “The Beauty of Dead Cities”), and even the most careful listener would be hard pressed to locate a musical idea that hasn’t previously been utilized on another album during Vintersorg-era Borknagar. What’s worse, though, is that the material here compares unfavorably to these prior albums. Take the lead track, “Epochalypse,” which is meant to fulfill the same role as “Havoc” on their previous release. “Havoc” far surpasses “Epochalypse” in terms of brutality, vocal performance, memorability of riff, and atmospheric use of keyboards. Similarly, Urd falls well short of the first of the Vintersorg-fronted albums, Empiricism"the freshness of the songwriting and the extra jolt of drive provided by its technically outstanding rhythm section (Asgeir Mickelson and Tyr) puts it a good step or two above every Borknagar release that has come out since.

So, to sum up, Borknagar has stuck to the Borknagar formula on Urd. It’s not a bad formula per se, but one that could use some freshening up with a more collective approach to songwriting. It is also disappointing due to the underutilization of returning band member ICS Vortex’s trademark majestic, soaring vocals.


user ratings (88)
Chart.
3.7
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
Crysis
Staff Reviewer
April 27th 2012


16397 Comments


For some reason I still haven't heard this.

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Tyrael
April 27th 2012


20879 Comments


It's not that good

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lak89
April 27th 2012


183 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I actually like this album a lot, it's better than Universal for me right now.

Tyrael
April 27th 2012


20879 Comments


^

Universal was pretty ehh anyway

ZedO
April 27th 2012


1096 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

The album is not that bad...

lifter
April 27th 2012


21 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I remember Garm being asked in an interview why he quit Borknagar. He said something to effect that, you know, it's a good band, but that they weren't going to be heading anywhere new musically after their first two albums.

lifter
April 27th 2012


21 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

And, personally, I do rate "Universal" higher than this. The peaks on that album ("Havoc," the two songs featuring ICS Vortex guest vocals) are higher than anything on this disc. And I do enjoy listening to Tyr play bass.

Hawks
April 27th 2012


35824 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This seems to be getting pretty well-received on other sites. Borknagar was one of my favorites for a long, long time so I need to hear this.

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Lambda
May 28th 2012


2424 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

This is okay, but as you said, not much stands out on it.

TheSpirit
June 28th 2012


17849 Comments


need to hear this still

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Nimboc
January 4th 2013


77 Comments


I'm liking this much more than Universal. Borkanagar is at it again!

linguist2011
Contributing Reviewer
March 22nd 2013


1878 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Definitely one of their best albums for me. The sound in general seems to be much more epic and ambitious than ever before yet there are also instances where they seem to go back to their black metal roots, in particular on 'Epochalypse' and 'The beauty of dead cities'. With the dreamy atmosphere of 'In a deeper world' and the harmonious yet powerful 'The earthling' Borknagar's latest album brings about various moods that are reflected very well in the instrumentation.

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Zyhaal
April 15th 2013


193 Comments


Opening track is so fucking good.

Spag
September 20th 2013


1762 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

It's pretty awesome.

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metropolis36
June 5th 2014


2 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This album is for all but not commercial..and it's normal

metropolis36
June 5th 2014


2 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This album is for all but not commercial..and it's normal



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