Borknagar – True North (2019)

It’s a Borknagar album, so am I really going to have anything bad to say about it? Nope. That out of the way, True North features the band melding their signature black metal with dozens of truly memorable melodies, not to mention clean vocal lines that we already know will stick deeply into our souls. “Wild Father’s Heart” actually did just that for me, as I nearly stopped everything I was doing to soak it in. There’s just something about Norwegian folk and black metal that lends so well together and it doesn’t matter how many albums these guys have in the bucket, you could’t tell me that they’re starting to show wear and tear.

The album sounds a bit glossy, but it successfully achieves a fascinating mixture of proggy synths, traditional folk instruments and hard-hitting black metal. The record even entertains a few guitar solos, which only help to improve upon what an unexpected level of majesty it can offer. I will say that the new Blut Aus Nord recording Hypnotic is equally on par with the instrumental performance here, but I would find myself hard-pressed to find a champion among the two recordings. I find them equally important and complimentary as far as the level of grandiosity is concerned. Additionally, I’m a bit shocked that they would both release around the same time, considering the fact that both bands are playing a very similar style; albeit True North is littered with clean vocals and Hypnotic doesn’t really feature any.

Borknagar fans will notice pretty quickly that a slightly more streamlined approach is offered here, but like Soilwork‘s recent outing Verklighten, there’s enough extremity and experimentation to stave off fans of pop music. Even so, you won’t help singing along with these cuts and you very well should. Borknagar features one of the best voices in black metal bar-none, so hearing this level of mesmerism yet again is more than worth the purchase price. At least go see a show or buy a t-shirt. You could always add another one to the collection.

I’m more than convinced that a momentous effort was put into this recording, which seems to offer a bit of a journey in some areas, making for a good mixture of accessible and slightly more obscure material. There’s nothing wrong with that, and it’s made Borknagar the household name that they’ve been for decades. As a music fan in general. I can tell that True North is a culmination of many inspirations, and these guys are listening to a lot of music, perhaps from the sixties, seventies and beforehand that would lend to such a unique modernization of what is broken down to it’s core element, the music of their land and it’s people.

True North
is the sound of Scandinavia and is essentially Norwegian flk music given a metallic facelift that I’m sure most metalheads aren’t even aware of. Yes, I see you banging your head (if people even still do that) but are you aware that you’re jamming to folk music? And don’t dare be ashamed to admit that, because folk music is brilliant. There’s a reason why it’s stood the test of time and has been injected so heavily into acts from this region throughout the years. If you find this record entertaining, I highly suggest digging into folk music, or even neofolk. That’s what I’m hearing on much of this album, aside from it’s obvious metallic leanings and sixties friendly keyboard antics. All of which come together to produce absolute class and another masterwork from an already celebrated band.

(9 Tracks, 60:00)




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