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Wind, Water, Earth, Fire - Invincible! - 97%

TowardsMorthond, April 17th, 2012

The Olden Domain is an expansion of defining themes from Borknagar's first album. The characteristic elements are further developed in a widening of the band's sound, which achieves a vast atmosphere and a further reach into the epic and melodic. The enormous production provides this music with a powerful sound presence, as each aspect of the band's instrumentation is emphasized, accomplishing effective balance between the ambient and robust nature of the material. Yet the great triumph of Borknagar's music is the masterful composition. There is a fantastic employment of dynamics of the epic, the bombastic, the ferocious, and the contemplative, reflecting the flow of existence through the medium of directional, purposeful songwriting.

"My heart it beats the pulse of ancient times"

Summoning the ancient spirit of their Norwegian ancestry, Borknagar arouse a spiritual yearning for a purity of understanding and inner truth through a musical mood of heathenish convictions, recalling the barbaric nobility of Viking traditions. The personality of the music is wise, heroic, and incensed, fueled by unyielding passion, strong in spirit towards the countless perils waiting on every course. A greater balance between scathing screams and triumphant singing works towards a wider emotional perspective. Garm's singing voice is heroic, noble, proud, and defiantly confident, reaching, in context with the music, glorious heights of epic beauty in "The Winterway", "A Tale Of Pagan Tongue" and "The Dawn OF The End". The guitar riffs are typically simplistic in design while subtly utilizing harmonic fluctuation which fleshes out the sound in flowing proportions of composite undertones. Melancholic melodies arising from slower passages give the music a nostalgic touch, yet this effect is accented by thunderous rhythm powered by impressively physical drumming. The drummer is an expert pounder in the sense of rhythmical intuition, with incredible energy and force behind beats, forsaking technical detail in favor of sheer power and might, though keenly aware of directional flow.

"When time is ripe to revive the past
Let us see who stands triumphant!"

The folk elements are less obvious compared to the debut, primarily because there are not as many acoustic folk instrumentals and interludes this time around. These elements are instead subtly incorporated within the riffs and melodies of proper songs through keyboards and acoustic guitars which underscore or embellish particular themes with Scandinavian folk melodies, which evoke a mythological atmosphere. There is a thematic concentration on elements of nature and the process of universal forces, along with consistent reference to ancient ways of existence which involved an adaptation to and learning from the natural environment. Bravery in the face of the long and bitter Scandinavian winter during these olden times was essential when the way of life necessarily demanded a physical and spiritual relationship with the earth, and though we live in more materially comfortable times, the winter of life, of the human experience of existence in a world where infinite struggles lie in wait, calls for a certain hardness of heart and wisdom of spirit. The ancient past can never be revived in the literal sense, but these hard, honest, and noble times produced a meaningful substance for life that is now alien to the ordinary way of life in these comparatively easy modern times. The old ways are not fundamentally useless to us now, and indeed can steer us back to a purer way of life than the celebrated technological progression of this time.

"There will forever be this ancient tongue
Primal wisdom from nature's own lung"

The Olden Domain is a triumphant approach to epic black metal. Powerful composition, beautiful atmospheric flow, mighty rhythmical foundations, and vibrant melodies are enjoined to create a memorable and thoroughly engaging work. Life is struggle, and Borkangar's music inspires an embrace of the journey with fierce determination towards a meaningful existence. There is wisdom and faith to be gained by observing the endless victory of the natural cycle, an infinite process that is our clearest representation of reality. This is the well of inspiration pursued by Borknagar, and The Olden Domain stands as the band's greatest expression.