Borknagar - _Empiricism_
(Century Media, 2001)
by: Chris Flaaten (8 out of 10)
Borknagar is an oddity. Even through frequent line-up changes and variations in musical intensity, Borknagar still manage to come across as unique and true to their sound. This only proves how vital Oystein G. Brun's songwriting skill and ability to find suitable band members are. Since their previous album, metal relatives Vintersorg and Tyr have replaced Simen Haestnes. In addition to this, Borknagar has taken on a clearly mellower tone and _Empricism_ is comparable to _The Archaic Course_ [CoC #32] in this respect. The first thing that struck me, apart from the new vocalist and improved production, was that the songs seem more complete and evenly balanced. This was the one thing I found lacking on _Quintessence_ [CoC #48]; solid songwriting throughout the entire album. Still, there are no songs on their new album that can rival songs like "The Presence Is Ominous" from _Quintessence_. Hopefully, the next one will be as evenly balanced as _Empiricism_, but with even better songs. As for the new vocalist, Vintersorg uses his clean vocals very often -- in fact, he uses them much more often than his superior vocal predecessor. Vintersorg is a good vocalist, but his clean vocals sound somewhat strained, whereas Simen's simply flowed gently and smoothly with twice the intensity. The rest of the performances are top notch, with Tyr's bass lines and Nedland's Hammond organ adding a fresh, yet fitting, dimension to Borknagar's music. A very good album, but I think they can do even better. Fans of both Vintersorg and Borknagar should have no reason not to buy this album.

[Alvin Wee: "As much as I'd like to insist that the self-titled debut is the band's best work, this new disc boasts a confidence and flair that's hard to refute. Superb melodies and stellar musicianship sealed in with a breath of originality put this a notch higher than last year's boring _Quintessence_."]

[Pedro Azevedo: "Rejuvenated by new vocalist Vintersorg's stirring vocal delivery, and also aided by Asgeir Mickelson's involved drumming and Solefald's Cornelius' masterful keyboard work, Borknagar have made one of 2001's most stunning returns to form. A clear improvement upon _Quintessence_, _Empiricism_ is the product of a band that currently shows great songwriting inspiration in addition to their impressive technical skills."]

(article published 14/1/2002)

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