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Progressive mastery - 96%

Dark_Mewtwo1, May 2nd, 2006

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.