Borknagar was formed by Guitarist Oystein G. Brun in 1995, in Norway. Soon after this, they released their first, self titled album and were instantly signed to Malicious records without even releasing a demo, the press on this album was excellent.
This, Borknagar's second full length release, 'The Olden Domain' combines progressive, folk, and epic elements all into a black metal package. This album was released in 1997 on Century Black.
Garm (of Acturus, and Ulver) - Vocals
Oystein G. Brun (of Molested) - Guitars
Ivar Bjornson (of Enslaved) - Synth
Kai K. Lie - Bass
Grim (of Immortal) - Drums
This albums lineup includes some of the most recognizable names in black metal.
The opener, The Eye of Oden starts the album with some psychadelic effects before blasting into the music with some well played music from all parts, and Garm singing (not screaming, singing like his work in Arcturus.). This song combines awesome melody parts along with some screaming tremelo picking with awesome singing and screaming from Garm. Awesome song.
My favorite track on the album is definitely this next song, The Winterway. It fades in with some slow tremelo picking, which is followed by some strummed acoustics, making for an awesome combination. This is broken with some awesome melodies between the keys and guitars here along with some quality singing from Garm, this song also switches between extreme black metal and melodic metal. The chorus to this song is full of energy, i love it, as well as i love this song.
The instrumental, Om Hundrede Aar Er Alting Glemt starts with some nice keyboards going, the music being played here fits very well with the whole atmosphere of the album. Soon enough the guitars fade in, making for an awesome sound here. The guitars and keys blend together perfectly here. Towards the end, the keys get more and more obscure, but it sounds awesome. Solid Song.
The next track A tale of Pagan Tongue starts off with some good black metal and basically stays that way throughout the song, adding in some symphonic elements along with some brief interludes of Garm Singing, this compliments the music very well. Solid song.
To Mount and Rove starts off slow compared to the rest of the album, but still a nice tune nonetheless. The verse here is interesting, symphonic stuff, slow and with an effect on Garms whispered vocals, awesome combination by the masters. The song then picks up with some incredibly awesome sung vocals by Garm here, his vocals right here define this entire song. This song continues to shift back and forth between the obscure and, well, the less obscure . Shifting in and out of slow, doomy, viking passages between black metal is what they do best and it shows here. This is definitely one of my favorite songs on the album.
Grimland Domain starts off fast and aggressive before slowing down into more melodic parts, this song shifts between melodies and raw aggressive riffs well, combining in some obscure, Emperor like keyboards. Garms vocals are not spared here either, he boths sings and screams here. This is a solid track.
Ascension of our Fathers starts off with an obscure distortion guitar riff along with some nice synths to compliment the music, this is followed by a slow-mid paced guitar lead. This song is about 4 minutes of a guitar lead with synths/guitars in the background, nothing bad here, but it can get a bit boring.
The closer, The Dawn of the End starts off with some fast black metal, keeping melody all the same. This song much like the others interchanges between slower, melodic passages and faster more aggressive ones, after the instrumental Ascension of our Fathers, hearing Garm sing is a nice touch, not to mention hearing him sing. After a long acoustic passage, the music picks up one more time with Garm singing the lyrics 'I close my eyes...' as the album ends with a nice little solo behind it, an awesome way to end an awesome album.
4.5/5 from me, absolutely mind-blowing arrangements and musical chemistry here.
A few knocks on this album.
The Bass sound in some parts could have been a lot better, at certain times it just sounds like mud.
The sound quality isn't the greatest, the guitar tone could have been stronger, and the synths could have been a tad louder, but either way the album sounds fine.
If you don't like Garms voice on the last two Arcturus albums, then you will not like it here, i myself love Garm's voice to death but i know some people who don't, this could be a turn off to some people.
Good Points on the album.
The Musicianship is excellent here, this is by far one of the best albums black metal has to offer musically wise (the music on this album outlasts even the mighty Emperor in terms of skill and musical chemistry.)
The vocal sound is awesome, you can hear everything garm says, sings and screams.