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I feel deeply grateful when I listen to a metal recording such as this one; it has almost every single detail that you may expect from a mature metal album. Honestly I wasn’t a big fan of Borknagar ‘till I listened to all the songs that this unique metal masterpiece has, it’s a very enjoyable recording and I have to say that it’s one of my hundred favorite metal recordings. I remember perfectly the first day that I knew about Borknagar, I asked to myself, “does this really work?” I mean black metal with progressive and folk parts wasn’t something common for me at all. The first Borknagar CD that I ever listened to was the one named “Quintessence” (It reminded me the Darkthrone song), which is a pretty good album but not as good as this one. In my point of view, this recording has more interesting elements than Quintessence, it has more variations, more clean vocals, more enjoyable melodies and it’s longer.
Empiricism” is a recording that gives me the sensation of tranquility and satisfaction at the same time because this is the kind of metal that I always want to listen to when I’m fucking tired and I really don’t want to know any shit about anyone on Earth. It’s logical that Borknagar made a great effort making this possible, the album has: an excellent production, smart lyrics, great guttural and clean vocals, elaborated harmonies, in other words it is almost perfect, Oysten really knew how to combine all these characteristics without affecting each other, for some people this recording is repetitive and I totally disagree with them, I think almost all of the songs here have the same characteristics but it does not mean that “Empiricism” is a monotonous CD.
In conclusion, “Empiricism” is a recording that you shall afford if you are interested in unique things, it’s very different to recommend a pure black metal album because there are several bands that play just black metal but how many bands play black/progressive/viking metal?, I think Borknagar is a great, special band and also it’s unique.
Borknagar is known as "that one supergroup that everyone knows about" in the extreme metal circles. They are widely revered for the great s/t and The Archaic Course releases. People have also noticed that the sophomore releases with both Garm and ICS Vortex have been sub-par. So in this release, Borknagar has a new captain on board, Vintersorg.
And let's just say, this album goes to show that, for first albums with a new vocalist, Borknagar takes the prize, AGAIN. What we have in this platter is 10 tracks of spit-shined black metal crossed with progressive metal. And while black metal purists wince at the thought of something like this, I find that this album is almost perfect in every way.
The instrumentation in this album is superb. Every single instrument can be clearly heard, including the bass, and everyone plays with such a great sense of melody and unity. What stood out to me as soon as I first heard this album is the truly inspiring drum work by Asgeir Mickelson. This man is completely underrated in what he does. If you need any proof of just how good he is, it comes in the first track, The Genuine Pulse, where he does various drum fills and even cymbal fills throughout the track, as well as doing some good blast beats and mid-pace, more prog-like drum sections. Once again, Oystein Brun proves to be a great songwriter and guitarist, with some great tremolo riffs throughout the album (the riff on Four Element Synchronicity comes to mind), and along with Jens, they provide a great guitar section. Newcome Lazare (of Solefald fame) brings a great dimension to Borknagar's music with his haunting Hammond sounds. It adds a sense of atmosphere that wasn't always there in previous Borknagar releases. And of course, Vintersorg's vocals are top notch, having him seamlessly go from harsh black metal vocals to clean, folky singing that he is known for.
Each of the songs flow extremely well, so you never skip a beat. Each of the songs has a little of everything: some sections are more guitar driven, some are more keyboard oriented, and there are always spaces open for Asgeir's drumming to shine, or Vintersorg's great vocal work to take center stage, and, in the case of Four Element Synchronicity's bridge section, even for a bass/piano duet by Lazare and Tyr. It's an excellent album for black metal fans, and progressive metal fans alike. One of my all time favorites.