Review Summary: I find this album to be much better than "Epic" and definitely better than "Origin" it will not let down Borknagar fans very much, and they have added some different things into their music to keep it from being stale. However I don't think this is going
Borknagar....Borknagar..Sorry I had to say that one more time, has been around for quite a few years now, founded by Øystein Brun, previously of Molested (this dude loves his band names) decides that one day he is going to create a black metal supergroup, and call it Borknagar. Yep that's right Borknagar. There has been a revolving door of musicians throughout the bands inception, as the band's first lead singer was Garm of Ulver, fronted the band for their first 2 discs. ICS Vortex, or simply Vortex, or to some of you, the guy who sings in Dimmu Borgir (He has since been fired from Dimmu Borgir as of 2009) For their most popular albums, "The Archaic Course" and "Quintessence" Vortex leaves the band, and in comes Vintersorg, who continues to front this band, and is the current vocalist on this here album "Universal"
This is definitely a different album than their previous works. All of the songs sound very polished, and it seems that things are finally clicking, and as I mentioned before, Vortex comes back into the fold, I'm not sure what type of role he plays in this band now, but it seems he is easing himself back in it. Wouldn't that be nice if Vintersorg, and Vortex were permanent members" I'd like to think it would be.
The album kicks off with "Havoc" which is a good way to start off any metal album in my opinion, and it's a pretty solid track. Things start to get a little progressive with the next song "Reason" and things seem to get more and more progressive as the album pushes onward. On a side note: I do believe Vintersorg's vocals have really improved on this release, I am not sure if it is the production or what, but he sounds good throughout.
Things start to get a little different with "The Stir of Seasons" a very progressive track with clean vocals throughout, I kind of feel like Vintersorg replaced Jonas Renske of Katatonia just for fun, or Arcturus let him in the band for a few minutes. Either way its not a mind blowing track by any means.
"For A Thousand Years to Come" and "Abrasion Tide" keep the middle part of the album at a nice pace, and kept me from getting bored halfway through listening to this. "Fleshflower" makes me laugh, I really hope they wrote this song as a joke, because that is what it is. I didn't know hippies were allowed in black metal.
Following "Fleshflower" is "Worldwide" which I thought was going to be another "Fleshflower" but I was proved wrong, and I am happy with that.
"My Domain" is easily the best track on the album by far, and it features I.C.S. Vortex, and boy does he fit in with this band like Michael Jackson's glove. It is such a beautiful song from start to finish, truly enjoyable, and Vortex's vocals are so unique, its just an awesome closer.
Unless you have the 2 bonus tracks "Coalition of the Elements" and "Loci" which is all but 2 minutes of Vintersorg doing his best Mikael Akerfeldt impression. "Coalition of the Elements" is a nice bonus track though for fans of Borknagar.