Borknagar - _The Olden Domain_
(Century Media, 1997)
by: Alvin Wee (
What's with black metal these days? The bloody Viking raids of old seem to have metamorphosed into nice little boat trips "for the little Erik, dear." While this supergroup's latest offering would still have sent Edvard Grieg scurrying for cover, their material seems pretty mild compared to their first album. Granted, the musicianship and songwriting are beyond reproach, but somehow there's that lack of kick to it -- like a censored movie, perhaps. Boasting immediately memorable choruses "a la Viking" and strongly folk-inspired riffs, the songs are actually jewels in themselves, like the fascinatingly well-crafted "To Mount And Rode" (whatever that means). For those who can't get enough of Garm's misty-eyed throat-warblings, look elsewhere; here, the clear singing resembles more of a soundtrack to some Hollywood movie than an authentic piece of Norway. Century Media has certainly worked in their influence by making this more marketable than past material, and traditional self-mutilators will find more solace in their earlier Viking viciousness. However, _The Olden Domain_ is by all means an excellent piece of art and makes up for what it lacks in punch with more than ample craftsmanship.
(article published 5/2/1997)
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