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It took me long time to finish this review. Not counting laziness and other unimportant factors I still cannot find the way how to rise to the occasion of written ranking properly. Already after the first listening i knew, that I like the music. But how to express it in order to show the true power and majesty of the recording?
Finally there came the redemptive idea and the review could be finally born. Do you know Moonsorrow? Because if you do, then Bornholm are simply the Moonsorrow of the east, namely from Hungary. If you don't know mentioned vikings, then you should know that in one metal discussion I once had marked this band as „the gods above the northern plains“ and had claimed „when Moonsorrow are playing songs as Luopion Veri or Unohduksen Lapsi, then the Valhalla is trembling in foundations“. And one of the users, who would normally argue with me about blueness of the sky, noticed that even if he finds it strange, he has to agree with me. Moonsorrow are simply the absolute top of viking folk/black metal. And there we have a band, which is at least getting closer to the viking gods.
During working on this review I have found, that I also owned both of the older releases of this Hungarian formation – one demo and one full length from 2003. It is also quality and interesting music, for instance lets mention precious cover of well-know instrumental Transylvania, originally by Iron Maiden. Nevertheless, next six years the Album, which can easily beat all of it, was maturing.
Aside indisputable qualities in songwriting, the recording is well performed, recorded and mixed as well. The instruments are properly recorded and the final mix is lacking nothing, all instruments can be identified and heard. The only thing which possibly failed a bit are choirs, which I found somewhat drowned. What is also embarrassing me a little is singer's accent, which is unoverhearable for a listener of my level. According to me, this defect, common for many other (namely some Czech) bands, should be easily steamed off by singing using mother tongue. Folk metal band Dalriada is showing us that it is possible. In addition I consider Hungarian language to be quite „rough“ language, which would fit perfectly to the mood created by the music.
Nonetheless the album in general, ignoring couple of a bit weaker moments, is attacking and scoring with shifty riffs, strong melodies and solid atmosphere of majestic woods and mountains shaking under the rage of ancient pagan battles. I cannot but recommend this piece to all fans of pagan/viking black metal. With no doubt the best song is fourth track Mournful Hymns.
Originally written for www.metalzone.info
Six years is quite the stretch between albums, but Hungarians Bornholm have put the time to good use, crafting a worthy successor to their debut ...On the Way of the Hunting Moon. The nine new tracks showcase the band's heathen, hammering affection for both the charge to battle and the subtle glories of times past, and perhaps times to come. The March for Glory and Revenge steers the band on a collision path with many others who match the gallant, snarling black metal aesthetic with epic synthesizers and acoustics, but Bornholm proceeds to trample many of them straight into the dust.
One of the album's obvious strengths is the mix. So many of these pagan/folk black metal bands dwell within the margin of oblivious production values, but Bornholm has torn a page directly from the bible of Blood, Fire Death and studied it well. The guitars and vocals take the center stage, black as pitch and effectively capturing the lost glories of their lyrical matter like flies in amber. The synthesizers perform their function admirably, as a backdrop to provide gravitas for the metal cavalry, and when this band decides to open their throats to some cleaner emissions, they don't sound like awkward fools who decided to form a band at last month's Renaissance Faire.
This is also a subtle album: not subtle in its clarion call to warfare, not subtle in kicking your face in with its steed, but subtle in that its charms grow upon you without the need for sickly memorable melodies. This is WAR, and you are on the BATTLEFIELD. Behold the leering greatness of "Towering Clouds Over the Fields in Carnumtum", or the savage hedge of spears thrust forward through "Light Burst Into Flames on the Horns of Baphomet", or the longing bliss of "Consecrating the Spear of Destiny". Bornholm has also taken an interesting approach which lyrically combines the occult with anti-Roman myth and history:
'Oh, cold carpathian wind
I hear your call, bringer of storms
The stars shining above the mountains
Like lights above the graves'
March for Glory and Revenge is a lot of fun, and a triumph for the Hungarians, one you will come to know within minutes of first listening to its "Call of the Heathen Horns". A more than adequate celebration of olde.
Highlights: Mournful Hymns, Towering Clouds Over the Fields in Carnumtum, Light Burst Into Flames on the Horns of Baphomet, Consecrating the Spear of Destiny
I got this album purely by accident, usually I get tempted to try anything that is labeled “Epic” or “Atmospheric”, hardly half of the bands I listen to under this category claiming to be epic just overdo the keyboards and the synth to attain the “epicness” which usually sounds too synthetic and ruining the atmosphere as well, make no mistake I'm not the one who detests the usage of keyboards and synth in metal, any addition of instrument is fine as long as they don't drain the essence of metal, that's what this album does keeps the music aggressive and epic at the same time.
After a long six years gap Bornholm released their second full length “March for Glory and Revenge” as I had never heard them before, I didn't expect much and kept my mind open but I did have a feeling that this wouldn't be disappointing as they were compared to another Hungarian band Sear Bliss whose music I adore, and this was far from a disappointment. After the acoustic intro which set the mood for what in store, then the chaos began and we are greeted with a crushing music perfect to wage a war among the audience if its played live. Sound of this album is what I'll certainly label as epic, with clear production of music all the instruments are heard perfectly, guitars play an important role in structure of songs they are played with varying riffs and some songs have a short guitar solo which fits well without ruining the pace or the atmosphere of the songs. Keyboards just play the role of creating an epic atmosphere without being too synthetic or ruin the structure of the song. Vocals are raspy and aggressive but each word is heard clearly this is the type of vocals I prefer, also some of songs make use clean vocals for a short period of time which is done pretty well, it complements well with harsh vocal parts. Drums are top notch with some great rolls and changing with tempo without being out of place. Some of the songs include trombone which is a fantastic addition indeed, which creates an atmosphere reminding us of the battlefield the band is trying to portrait.
I love this album for its aggression but also being epic and haunting at the same time, the energy level of this album is constant not a bleak moment on this record. Just as expected of an album with a war theme. I rarely find black metal albums that complement each instrument so well to create such an atmosphere, I'd recommend this to any black metal fan who loves the epic and atmospheric aspect of the genre, I assure you this album will keep your interest level high, I've been listening to this album for weeks now and I still have the urge to play the album again and again. A fantastic record.
Tracks to look out for: “Where the Light Was Born (Thule Ultima A Sole Nomen Habens)” the usage of trombone enhances the experience of the track check the epic part past 5th minute mark. “From Blackness of Aeons” and the lengthiest “Towering Clouds Over The Fields Of Carnuntum”
Bornholm’s newest release, March For Glory and Revenge, is a crushing delivery of heathen black metal that’s worthy of being the soundtrack to an ancient battle between the Goths and the Roman Empire. It’s rare that a black metal album comes along which so perfectly combines the elements of force, epic ferocity and melodic beauty that are all present in Bornholm’s second studio album. This is the kind of black metal that I love. The two minute intro, “Reconquering the Carpathians,” sets the stage with its haunting clean guitar part and the sound effects of horses and pounding hooves: two armies opposing each other on a mist-covered field at dawn, the soldiers silent in the dreadful contemplation that can only come before a battle.
And then the war begins.
“The Call of Heathen Horns” comes galloping through the speakers, and from here on out the record soars, charging through one epic confrontation after another. Clean vocals are used sparingly but effectively, particularly at the end of this track. The final riff is a clarion call to arms, ushering the pagans into battle, while Thorgor bellows the closing lines: “I hear the sound of battle drums/I hear the call of heathen horns/A call… for war!”
“The Blackness of Aeons” opens with a very catchy riff and maintains the same level of passion that accompanied the previous track. The musicianship displayed here is impeccable; riffs chug furiously and melodically, and the percussion hammers the battle onwards. There are also touches of brass and horns, but not so much that it becomes the focus of the music. They are used tastefully, echoing hints of Sear Bliss (which, if you’re an epic pagan black metal band, is no bad thing). The song closes with two fantastic harmonized riffs, and the finals lines see the song off in epic style: “Our bodies will be fed with your soul/Our spirit will haunt in your nights/We’ll rise from the blackness of aeons/We’ll show you the eternal light.”
The album continues in the same vein, never faltering in its power, throughout the onslaught of music. Each song possesses its own unique riffs and musicianship, but the whole album maintains a cohesive tone. A large amount of effort went into the composition and performance of these tracks, and it shows. “Mournful Hymns” is a testament to the fact that, even in the harshest of musical styles, one can still appreciate the beauty of melody. The horns return in “Where the Light Was Born (Thule Ultima A Sole Nomen Habens)” in a clear homage to Sear Bliss; they’re loud, sounding, but not complicated. The song then moves into a mellow section before returning to the horns. The record has its fair share of mellow moments, but they never seem out of place or detract from its energy; rather, the softer movements in the songs complement the performance as a whole, providing a necessary reprieve from what would otherwise be constant battery (suggesting that in metal, like in war, the warriors must sometimes rest).
“Light Burst Into Flames on the Horns of Baphomet” pays homage to the pagan and satanic aspects of traditional black metal, and the choirs utilized in the song chant on in a simple, Gregorian style, but mock the religious influence by claiming: “We are our own god.” The following track, “Towering Clouds Over the Fields of Carnuntum,” is instrumental, and begins at a slightly slower pace, allowing the two guitars to craft interesting melodies, weaving in and about one another to create a haunting atmosphere. The addition of horns completes the epic composition.
The penultimate track, “Deconsecrating the Spear of Destiny,” is the longest one on the album and clearly strives to achieve a pinnacle of epic proportions. The climax occurs when the song breaks down into halftime and the guitars and horns begin exchanging the spotlight by layering on the melodies, and then Thorgor begins trading lyrics with the choir, building up to the final blasting charge to the finale. “Dreams of Ages,” the final track, demonstrates some gorgeous guitar work and a slower pace, and may be the closest thing to a ballad that the album offers. There are only four lines of lyrics: “The peace of time/Will be shattered by my cry/Under the edge of my blade/The world turns out of itself.” As the electric guitars and percussion descend into silence, we are left with only two acoustic guitars performing a simplified version of the song’s beauteous melody. Then, slowly, they too fade into silence.
March For Glory and Revenge is a concise, cohesive suite of songs that moves with purpose and power. It does not falter in what it intends to do, and it offers its listeners one hell of a fun and epic ride. This is the music that ancient warfare is made of, and it ranks up there alongside Ancient Rites, Immortal, Sear Bliss and Hellveto. A fantastic record.