Borknagar is a progressive black metal band from Bergen, Norway, founded in 1995 by Øystein Garnes Brun. The band’s style combines black metal and folk metal with progressive and melodic elements. Borknagar’s lyrics often deal with philosophy, paganism, nature, and the cosmos.
Borknagar was founded by Øystein Brun, then a member of the Norwegian death metal band Molested, when he became tired of the brutal aspects of the band’s music. Øystein formed Borknagar to explore a more melodic outlet of expression, inspired by the burgeoning black metal movement Norway was experiencing and looking to push the boundaries of what was considered “traditional” black metal music. He wrote all of the music and lyrics, and gathered together an all-star group of black metal musicians to play in his band, such as Infernus of Gorgoroth, Grim of Immortal and Gorgoroth, and Ivar Bjørnson of Enslaved.
When Garm of Ulver, Head Control System, and Arcturus joined the project, it brought the band immediate attention. The band never even recorded a demo; they simply asked for a record contract on Malicious Records and were granted their request based on the strength of this lineup. Borknagar’s music instantly gained fans and received positive press attention. In 1999, Grim committed suicide using sleeping pills. He was replaced by Justin Greaves who left shortly after to be replaced by Asgeir Mickelson.
Borknagar has released ten albums to date. Their self-titled debut album features lyrics solely in Norwegian; all subsequent albums have featured lyrics written in English exclusively (however, The Olden Domain featured an instrumental track titled in Norwegian). Aside from Brun’s lyrical contributions, the band has featured lyrics by other members as well: ICS Vortex from Arcturus and ex-Dimmu Borgir, drummer Asgeir Mickelson, keyboardist Lars Nedland and more recently by current vocalist Vintersorg from Otyg and his eponymous band. Bassist Jan Erik Tiwaz (a.k.a. Tyr) wrote the song ‘The View of Everlast’. All of the band’s records (excluding the original pressing of the debut album) have been released by the label Century Media. Borknagar has toured with various bands including Emperor, Peccatum, In Flames, Morbid Angel, and Cradle of Filth.
Borknagar released a lighter album, Origin, which is “an acoustic effort based entirely on the epic and progressive aspect of the band”, according to Øystein G. Brun’s statement on blabbermouth.net.
In late December 2007, the band signed a three-album deal with the Norwegian label Indie Recordings. In March 2008, Asgeir posted an announcement from Øystein on UltimateMetal forums stating that Erik Tiwaz and Jens F. Ryland had again become official members of the band, and that the band were aiming for a January 2009 release. In May 2008, Øystein released another statement announcing Asgeir’s departure as the band’s drummer, due to “evolving differences in musical ideas and visions […] The split happens in friendly manner and with mutual respect for the decision that he has made. He will remain a good friend of the band.”
2010 would see Borknagar’s next, and eighth release, titled Universal, following their departure from Century Media Records, released on Indie Records. This album marks the return of guitarist Jens F. Ryland, and also features the vocals of ICS Vortex on the final track, before his official return to the band.
In 2012, Borknagar would release their ninth album, titled Urd. This was a return to Century Media Records. This would also feature both ICS Vortex and Vintersorg on vocal duty.
The winter of 2016 would see another release from Borknagar, their tenth album titled Winter Thrice.
Winter Thrice / 2016
1. The Rhymes of the Mountain
2. Winter Thrice
3. Cold Runs the River
5. When Chaos Calls
Winter Thrice is the tenth studio album by the Norwegian black metal band Borknagar. Released in 2016 on Century Media Records.
Urd / 2012
3. The Beauty of Dead Cities
4. The Earthling
5. The Plains of Memories
6. Mount Regency
8. The Winter Eclipse
9. In a Deeper World
Urd is the ninth full-length album by the Norwegian metal band Borknagar. Released on March 26, 2012, it is the first album to feature ICS Vortex and Vintersorg sharing lead vocals. It also marks the final recording with Borknagar by David Kinkade, who joined Soulfly after the recording and subsequently retired from music.
Borknagar’s founder, Øystein G. Brun described the artwork for Urd as “an earthly expression…You can almost smell and feel the texture of the old Norse wooden carvings”. Given that Borknagar’s previous album was titled Universal, Brun suggested that it was natural for the band to “head back home to earth” when choosing the title for its next album. For Brun, this choice reflected a desire to “get back to the core of the band”, and specifically “admiration and pondering about nature and mankind’s place therein”
For Brun, the meaning behind the album title connects with the sound of the album: “Even though the album has a very progressive approach, the spirit of the album is very retrospective. Might sound a bit like a paradox, but in my opinion this ‘duality’ is the very core of progression. Progression without a musical anchor is plain drifting. But [there] is more to the title, different layers of philosophical ideas and perspectives.”
Among the different layers of the album title is its connection to Norse mythology. Urd, which is the name of a norn that represents the past when deciding the fates of persons. This entity is taken by Brun as a metaphor for a modern scientific discovery. Brun speculated that Urd “is an ancient expression of what we today know as DNA. And I have always been very fascinated by the fact that parts and bits of our DNA actually derive from the very beginning of time. All living creatures are somewhat connected to the very first organic cell. That is some of the story behind the album title”.
Elaborating upon the interconnectedness of organisms through time, Brun has alluded to the deep ecology of Arne Næss as an inspiration on Urd. “I just love how he [Naess] talks about nature, almost like in a childish but yet a very profound way. He professes the idea that every creature is connected and equally independent for survival. Some sort of revolt against the Christian dogma that mankind is the ruler of the earth. So based on this, I was inspired to turn my head down to earth to ponder about the ‘roots’ of mankind”.
Universal / 2010
3. The Stir of Seasons
4. For a Thousand Years to Come
5. Abrasion Tide
8. My Domain
Universal is the eighth full-length album by the Norwegian black metal band Borknagar. It marks the return of guitarist Jens F. Ryland. The band’s former vocalist, ICS Vortex, performed vocals on the track My Domain. The album was intended to be released in the fall of 2009, but the release date was postponed as a result of a label decision. It was released on February 22, 2010 in four formats: a regular jewelcase CD, a limited digipack which includes a bonus disc, a CD box with extras, and a gatefold LP with double vinyl.
Øystein G. Brun, the founder of the band, notes that: “We are extremely satisfied with the result! The album turned out even better than we dared to hope for when starting this journey. There is an attitude, energy and nerve to this record that will appeal to the most primal side of man, yet there is complexity and atmosphere that will challenge the most sophisticated parts of mind. The album contains all the elements that made Borknagar the band we are and we are firmly believe [sic] that this album will be a huge piece of candy for those who have followed the band through the years. This is by far the most complete album we have done to date- musically and production wise- and we are right now just immensely eager to get the album out there!”
Regarding the album title, Brun previously stated: “Universal is the title that shines through and mirrors the essence of the album. Universal is a title that is broad enough and huge enough to project the giant character of this album, both musically and lyrically.”
Lars A. Nedland expressed his opinion on the album: “I just listened to the test mastering of two of the new songs, and they sound great. I’m absolutely confident that you will love this album. Both Mr. V and Vortex do such amazing vocal performances, and I’m very happy with the way the songs turned out. It all sounds very fresh and Borknagar-ish.”
On January 29, 2010 Borknagar released the first track, Havoc, exclusively on their myspace page before the release of the album.
Origin / 2006
1. Earth Imagery
3. Oceans Rise
7. The Human Nature
9. The Spirit of Nature
Origin is Borknagar’s seventh studio album, and is primarily an acoustic effort. Origin explores the band’s more progressive and traditional elements.
Following his brief departure from the band during the recording sessions of Epic, this album would mark bassist Tyr’s rejoining of the band.
“Oceans Rise” is an acoustic remake of the original which appeared on their 1998 release The Archaic Course.
Epic / 2004
1. Future Reminiscence
4. Sealed Chambers of Electricity
5. The Weight of Wind
7. Relate (Dialogue)
10. The Inner Ocean Hypothesis
12. The Wonder
Epic is Borknagar’s sixth studio album. It was released in 2004 on Century Media Records, as were all of their recordings until Universal, which came out through Indie. Drummer Asgeir Mickelson plays all bass on this record because Tyr, their previous bassist, left the band halfway through the recording sessions. This album also marks the departure of guitarist Jens F. Ryland.
Empiricism / 2001
1. The Genuine Pulse
2. Gods of My World
3. The Black Canvas
4. Matter & Motion
5. Soul Sphere
6. Inherit the Earth
7. The Stellar Dome
8. Four Element Synchronicity
10. The View of Everlast
Empiricism is the fifth studio album by Borknagar, and their first studio album to feature Vintersorg (known as the frontman of the band of the same name) on vocals, along with the addition of Tyr on bass. This would mark the last album appearance of Jens F. Ryland on guitar until 2010.
The album was recorded at Fagerborg Studio and Toproom Studio during June and July 2001, and was mixed and produced by the band and Børge Finstad.
Quintessence / 2000
1. Rivalry of Phantoms
2. The Presence Is Ominous
3. Ruins of the Future
5. Inner Landscape
7. Icon Dreams
8. Genesis Torn
Quintessence is Borknagar’s fourth studio album. It was recorded at The Abyss Studios in January 2000 and mixed by Peter Tägtgren.
According to interviews, this album was meant to be a strictly straightforward black metal album, as shown on the production quality and the fact that ICS Vortex’s vocals are more of the traditional black metal screams and growls, with less clean singing.
This album marks bassist Kai K. Lie’s departure from the band, with vocalist ICS Vortex taking over bass duties. It also marks the departure of keyboardist Ivar Bjørnson (being replaced with Lars A. Nedland) and drummer Grim (being replaced with Asgeir Mickelson), who incidentally committed suicide a few months before the album’s release. This would also be Vortex’s last album as vocalist of Borknagar before quitting the band to join Dimmu Borgir (reportedly due to an ultimatum on Øystein Brun’s part), until his return in 2010.
The Archaic Course / 1998
1. Oceans Rise
3. The Witching Hour
4. The Black Token
5. Nocturnal Vision
6. Ad Noctum
7. Winter Millennium
8. Fields of Long Gone Presence
The Archaic Course is Borknagar’s third studio album and their first to feature ICS Vortex (Simen Hestnæs) on vocals replacing Garm(who, according to Øystein Brun, “didn’t want to scream anymore”), along with the addition of guitarist Jens F. Ryland. The album also features guest contributions from Enslaved guitarist Ivar Bjørnson, although he was not listed as part of the band in the credits. This is also the last album to feature the original drummer and one of the founders of the band, Erik “Grim” Brødreskift, before he died from a drug overdose.
The Olden Domain / 1997
1. The Eye of Oden
2. The Winterway
3. Om hundrede aar er alting glemt
4. A Tale of Pagan Tongue
5. To Mount and Rove
6. Grimland Domain
7. Ascension of Our Fathers
8. The Dawn of the End
The Olden Domain is the second studio album by the Norwegian band Borknagar, and their first to feature English lyrics. It also marks the beginning of the band’s transition to its trademark progressive/folk/black metal sound featured on later records.
This would be the band’s last studio album to feature Kristoffer Rygg on vocals. It is also their first album to feature Kai K. Lie on bass, replacing Infernus.
Borknagar / 1996
1. Vintervredets sjelesagn
2. Tanker mot tind (Kvelding)
3. Svartskogs gilde
4. Ved steingard
7. Grimskalle trell
8. Nord naagauk
9. Fandens allheim
10. Tanker mot tind (Gryning)
Borknagar is the debut studio album by the Norwegian band of the same name. It is their only album to feature lyrics in the Norwegian language and their only album to feature Infernus on bass (who reportedly recorded all the bass tracks in one day), and their only album recorded at Grieghallen Studios (frequented by other black metal bands such as Emperor and Gorgoroth).
This album features a more straightforward black/Viking metal approach (featuring raging riffs, blasting tempos and more focus on screaming vocals than cleans) as opposed to the band’s now trademark progressive/folk sound they would showcase in the next album, The Olden Domain.
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