Saturday, August 21, 2010

Borknagar: Epic (2004) Review

A while ago, I reviewed Borknagar's latest, Universal, and I was so impressed I said I was definitely going to explore their back catalog. So, I started working backwards, skipping the acoustic Origin for now.

The style is much the same. Vintersorg is the vocalist on this one as well, and there is still a great balance between the black metal and the more progressive elements.

On this record, there seems to be slightly less emphasis on electric organ, and much more obvious folk influence (like flute). I believe all the folk instruments are synthesized, but that seems to suit the sound. The overall feel of the record is less anthemic (it doesn't conjure images of Kansas in corpsepaint) and more epic, appropriately enough.

The songs are equally well-written, but quite different in approach. It's less hook-oriented and more progressive in intent, with standouts including opener "Future Reminiscence", "Cyclus", and "Quintessence". This record also seems to have more variety, including the mellow instrumental "The Weight of Wind" and the ballad "Relate (Dialogue)".

On the downside, it's not recorded nearly as well as Universal. It's still a good recording, but Universal was so perfectly recorded, with a huge sound and all instruments audible, that anything less is a slight disappointment. I suppose that's a problem I deal with when I work backward through a band's catalog, though.

The Verdict: Epic is very nearly as good as Universal, an album I already loved, and I'll continue exploring Borknagar. I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

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