Urd [Century Media]

Borknagar is arguably one of the most interesting bands from the famed Scandinavian black/folk metal scenes. Formed as an alternative to the brutality of the mid-90’s Euro-death scene, the Norwegian act has always taken melody over malevolence and substance over slaughter when penning new tunes, yet remained on top of the metal dog pile. Several albums (and line-up changes) later, nothing has changed. Marking the return of bassist/vocalist ICS Vortex [Dimmu Borgir], the band’s newest release, Urd, offers a vast landscape of breathtaking melodies, dramatic songwriting and more Paganism than you can shake a bag of runes at. Named for the Norse mythological concept of the building blocks of life, Urd sees Borknagar re-exploring their roots as a band with grandiose songs that blend gigantic melodies, clean vocals, haunting ambience and symphonic flourishes. Contrasting shades of Opeth and Emperor are present on this album, which equates to some very unique and interesting results. The main downfall with Urd is its disconnectedness. It seems the band had more than enough ideas for each song, but tried to fit them all in anyway. That said, if you want an excellent display of melodic and cerebral black/folk metal, look no farther. – Ryan Ogle

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