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Borknagar | Empiricism | review | metal | Lollipop
Empiricism (Century Media)
by Scott Hefflon
Borknagar always outdo themselves, and seeing as they were a supergroup to begin with (and one that knocked fans and critics for a loop with their "debut," The Olden Domain, in '97), they're just getting silly now... This is what I think of as metal, by the way. When people sneer that metal is for boneheads, I agree that nü metal and the dumbed-down groove-stomp is for retards. Similarly, I have trouble stifling a snicker when "power metal" or "traditional heavy metal" fruits start skipping around like elves, bells on their tasseled boots tingling like the little fairies they are, their falsetto squeals betraying the diminutive manhood between their legs. But Borknagar, ah, there's a metal band. Freaky, scowling, fearsome, creative, always pushing boundaries, respectfully adopting influences from other styles (look into it, ya little emo hacks), and basically, combining brutality with heart-stopping swells of beauty in ways that poetic hacks like me simply love to describe. The metaphors roll like buttah... Borknagar takes you on a rollercoaster ride the likes of which bio writers wish their bands actually did, and you're alternately thrilled, terrified, left pondering, and find yourself growling slightly in the back of your throat. And then the second song begins...
Like Emperor and a handful of other black metal originals, the members of Borknagar (pre-Borknagar, incidentally) went through all the stages of blackened brutality, hyperspeed blur, moody-synth fixation, and the "latest" blending of folk elements with "clean" vocals (most of these guys sing better than that butthead in Creed - like that's difficult - not that the mainstream will ever get past "I don't like that snake-hiss vocal thing"), and they're basically so "out there" that we mere mortals can only boggle in wonder. Sure, there's a bit (or a lot) of pretension here, not to mention a real risk of prog geekery, but Art and Vision are kinda high falutin', ya know? Passionate, brutal, beautiful, frightening stuff.
For those keeping up with the details, Simen left to focus on Dimmu Borgir, and Vintersorg was brought in to help with the "folk-inspired clean" vocals. And if you've ever heard any of his solo stuff (called Vintersorg, on Napalm), your heart leapt just a bit cuz that dude's got a great voice...
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