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Borknagar’s first album, “Borknagar” is very different from every other Borknagar release. All albums that come after this one have song structures, like verses and choruses. This album is pure raw black metal. And it is done very well.
The vocals on this album are provided by Garm (Ulver, Arcturus). He is usually known for his singing, but here he screams throughout 95% of it. Although I do love Garm’s passionate screams, he really shines when he sings on this album. “Dauden” is the only one where he sings lyrics. It is my favorite song off this album, and one of my favorites all time. It starts with Garm singing beautifully, in a low baritone head voice this time (Garm usually uses his chest voice) and gets into raw black metal. Towards the end Garm sings again and closes the song perfectly.
The bass is performed by Infernus (Gorgoroth) and the guitars are performed by Oystein G. Brun. Both are tremendous at what they do in this album. Infernus is usually a guitarist but he can definitely play bass as well. Oystein G. Brun is very special on this release. He plays the distorted raw black metal guitar like a pro, and he also provides acoustic guitar parts when necessary. The use of acoustic guitars is very effective here.
The drums are recorded by Grim (Immortal, Gorgoroth). He is amazing on this release. The man just knew how to blastbeat. He relentlessly smashes those poor drums in this album, and rarely lets up. When he does let up, it is for atmospheric purposes only.
Despite being a kick ass album, there are a few problems with it. The first major problem is the instrumentals. There are ten tracks here, and five of them are instrumentals. That’s half the album! There are also two instrumentals in a row which is always a track listing mistake. It shows that the band ran out of ideas or something. The second problem that I have with this album is Garm’s lack of singing. Yes, he has a great black metal voice, but he is really special when he sings. It is disappointing to me that he only sings in one song here, because fans of Garm’s old singing voice like me need as much as we can get considering he is not producing the same quality of singing with Ulver today. But besides these two issues, this is an awesome album.
As mentioned before, “Dauden” is my favorite track. However, another special track is “Vintervredets sjelesagn.” This is an epic masterpiece as well. I have also noticed that they use the same riff from this song in “The Winterway” from “The Olden Domain.” It is more primitive, but you can tell they drew that riff from this song.
This album is perfect for fans of black and folk metal. I would recommend that fans of Garm’s work should pick this up as well. It contains one of his best singing performances in “Dauden.” So, go buy “Borknagar” because it is absolutely worth your money.