Finally we have the good old Borknagar with ICS Vortex back in the line-up. The band that has many haters, but much more lovers seems to return in the past epic times. Clearly more experienced from all this years and with a fantastic line-up, Borknagar are presenting “Urd”, which is surely a hit in 2012 releases. Like in any other of their albums, the Norwegians surpass the black metal standards and move a step further of it. But in “Urd” the result is more magnificent not only because of Vortex, but also because of the great combination of Vintersorg’s and Nedland’s vocals.
For that reason, the new record’s success shouldn’t be counted only in Vortex’s return, because both Vintersorg and Nedland do a really great work here. “Urd” has an explosive beginning with “Epochalypse”, in which this excellent vocal combination fits perfectly upon the black metal compositions. And it’s noteworthy that Vortex sounds as he never sounded before. “Roots” was released on the net a little before the album’s release, just to give a clue for what we should be expecting and it did it successfully because “Urd” is something between the majestic early albums and the maturity of “Universal”. The harsh and clean vocals, the choirs and the melodies in guitars, prove that in “Roots”. Well, the new album made me an amazingly good impression, and one reason is “The Beauty Of Dead Cities”. Although the vocals give a taste of avant-garde style, the orchestrations especially in the beginning, create an occult atmosphere.
In “The Earthling” it’s Vintersorg’s turn to leave his mark in the new album. Maybe it is a low tempo track, but the band here takes a deep dive in their beginning and they present a stunning black metal song. After a very remarkable instrumental song, “Mount Regency” is following which is moving in the same ways but with more bombastic background music. The keyboards are something more than excellent and accompany the carving riffs. Also, in this song you’ll realize the perfection of this vocal fusion. Vintersorg’s harsh and clean vocals make the form and the amazing vocals of Vortex and Nedland launch the music into a higher level.
And then another hit comes in the listener’s face. “Frostrite” is maybe the best song in “Urd” and we all should thank Vortex because he left Dimmu Borgir to sing songs like this one! An amazing black metal twist with extremely beautiful operatic vocals. The lovers of “alternative” black metal music probably will love “The Winter Eclipse”, too. It’s a song that reminded a lot of my beloved “Quintessence” with all these melodic tremolo pickings, catchy riffs, the complex solo and the mind-blowing vocals. I really can’t get enough of it. “Urd” closes with “In A Deeper World”, a track that has the same music structure with the other tracks. In this song, Borknagar look like they gave too much attention in the atmosphere and the music effects, because the compositions are overshadowed by all of these elements. Perhaps, the vocal alternation contributes also to this.
Briefly, “Urd” is a very clever release and a pleasurable surprise for the year. Many songs will remind you the unforgotten early era and other songs some of their latest albums. The music compositions easily prove that, because they use both raw tremolo pickings and “jazzy” melodies here. But first of all, Borknagar managed to combine the power of three strong vocalists and that’s what makes “Urd” a total epic record. With ICS Vortex as a permanent member, it’s obvious that all the die-hard fans of Borknagar will expect such glorious releases in the future. The astral trip with the Borknagar ship is ready to start.