Borknagar: Winter Thrice

Bergen’s other progressive Vikings set sail once more

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Simply by virtue of not being Enslaved, Borknagar are the Norwegian folky progressive black metal band that aren’t nearly as big as they are good, and their 10th album is a firm reminder of just how skilled they are as songwriters.

Memorable vocal lines make this an instantly accessible listen, the recognisable clean singing of Vintersorg interspersed with aggressive shrieks and ICS Vortex’s inimitable, ethereal tenor, creating real dynamics from start to finish.

As you listen further, the shifts from black metal guitars to more lyrical prog guitars, and the keyboard and Moog layering are slowly revealed. Add in shifts of mood from dark and brooding to uplifting contemplation and moments of tranquil reflection such as Panorama and it’s another rich sonic tapestry the band so excel at.

For the picky, the frequent double bass drum-kicks imply a cutting loose that comes less often than expected, but it’s a minor gripe with such a rich variety of melody and metallic crunch. Clever, but also deeply human.