I will start off by saying I love Borknagar. They are one of those bands that, for me, can do no wrong. They have only gotten better and better over time. Their last album “Urd” was flat out incredible. I wasn’t sure if they could top it. But along comes “Winter Thrice,” and they have indeed topped it!
Borknagar have managed to unite two of their lead vocalists with the current lineup, ICS Vortex (who is also on bass) and Mr. V (a/k/a Vintersorg). That was one reason that “Urd” was so great. Having more weapons in their arsenal was a big factor in the success of that album. Not only are both of them back for “Winter Thrice” but original vocalist, Kristoffer Rygg (a/k/a Garm) guests on two songs!
The title track is one of the songs that benefit from all FOUR of the vocalists, let’s not forget keyboardist Lars Nedland who also sings! Garm’s clean vocal on this track is so stately and brilliant. Vintersorg’s harsh vocal adds a cold bite that the song needed. Garm also guests on “Terminus” which just adds to the power of that song as a closing track (another epic, awesome track), at least on the standard version of the album.
Borknagar do what they do best, epic progressive metal laced with black metal. “When Chaos Calls” has all of that, blast beats, massive chords and a dual harsh and clean vocal. One of the reasons Borknagar is so great is that they understand the importance of melody, in addition to the overall heaviness. Nedland’s use of vintage keys roots the sound firmly in the prog rock arena and adds melody when notes are flying around fast and furiously.
“Erodent” is another highlight of the album. A chorus that swings like a good viking anthem with a pounding double bass. Øystein G. Brun is not only a great songwriter but he and Jens Ryland are one of the most underrated guitar duos in all of rock and metal! “Noctilucent” shows the band can slow things down and showcase Nedland’s atmospheric keys. It also has a nice short melodic guitar solo. Even when they slow things down, they are still as menacing as ever.
“Winter Thrice” is Borknagar’s crowning achievement thus far. It’s an album that flows perfectly and is like warming yourself by a bonfire while the cold winds whip around you. It’s epic and challenging which is what progressive metal should be!
1. The Rhymes Of The Mountain
2. Winter Thrice
3. Cold Runs The River
5. When Chaos Calls