Borknagar - _The Archaic Course_
(Century Media, 1998)
by: Pedro Azevedo (
After the majestic and uplifting _The Olden Domain_, Borknagar return with _The Archaic Course_. Garm has left the band; the new vocalist is Simen Hestnaes, who performed lead vocals on Arcturus' "The Chaos Path" and some backing vox on a couple other tracks on that same album, _La Masquerade Infernale_. I'd say that Hestnaes is technically superior to Garm, but he can't match Garm's emotional vocals. Nevertheless, Borknagar still have a very talented vocalist capable of doing a fine job with both clean and black vocals (which aren't used as often as in _The Olden Domain_). The music is a bit less harsh and emotional than before, but equally majestic (except for the fact that Garm doesn't participate in the album) and perhaps slightly more dynamic at times. It also contains a few more technical details, a bit like what happens with the vocals. Borknagar show their talent again, especially in songs like "Universal", "Witching Hour" and "The Black Token", with melodies as remarkably catchy and unusual as those found in _The Olden Domain_. The total length of the album is a bit disappointing (less than 38 minutes), and the other songs are, although still very good, slightly inferior to these three -- otherwise, a 9 out of 10 would certainly have been given. Overall, I still like _The Olden Domain_ a bit better, but _The Archaic Course_ also has a good number of truly excellent moments.
(article published 1/16/1999)
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