11 July, 2012

Borknagar: The Earthling – new video



“The lyrical core-theme of BORKNAGAR has always been to portray the primal encounter between man and Nature, to project the poetry of Nature and to profess pondering about man's existence therein,” [commented the band's mastermind Øystein G. Brun] … As with our music, we wanted to do something really unique and special- and not a typical metal video. You won’t see a raging metal band in dim lights with scary effects, but rather a video that sophistically portray the beauty, magnitude and power of the Nature. Kjetil Kolbjørnsrud and David Solbjørg at Twitchy Films spent allot of time and effort to get the right shots and the perfect vibe. They spent hours and days in the Norwegian wilderness to make this video a reality. As you know, Nature is untamable.”

(And unless I am horribly mistaken, ‘The Earthling’ does feature the instantly recognizable and untamable fog, aptly documented by another famous Bergen resident here.) ‘The Earthling’ comes off BORKNAGAR's latest and ninth album ‘Urd’, out since March 2012 on Century Media Records. The nine tracks were produced by the group's mastermind Øystein G. Brun and mixed by Jens Bogren at Fascination Street Studios in Sweden. ‘Urd’'s artwork was created by Brazilian artist Marcelo Vasco: “You can almost smell and feel the texture of the old Norse wooden carvings - still there is a sophisticated and eclectic approach to the expression that entwines perfectly into the music,” commented Øystein G. Brun. As for the album's title:

“Urd is the name of one of the norns that according to northern mythology stands under Yggdrasill and weaves the lifeline of mankind. “Urd” is representing the past, while “Verdande” is representing the present and “Skuld” is representing the future. You might very well say that this is an ancient expression of what we today know as DNA. And I have always been very fascinated by the fact that parts and bits of our DNA actually derive from the very beginning of time. All living creatures are somewhat connected to the very first organic cell. That is some of the story behind the album title - portrayed within the framework of the BORK-universe…”:

BORKNAGAR: Roots – courtesy of Century Media Records

Founded in 1995 in Bergen, Norway by guitarist Øystein G. Brun with the idea of breaching the boundaries of what was deemed “traditional” black metal, Brun assembled an all-star cast of vocalist Garm (ULVER, ARCTURUS' Kristoffer Rygg), drummer Grim (GORGOTH, IMMORTAL), bassist Infernus (GORGOTH) and keyboardist Ivar Bjornson (ENSLAVED), with whom he recorded BORKNAGAR's debut self-titled album. Deemed “harsh yet melodic and majestic black metal album” by William York, Allmusic, BORKNAGAR's only album to feature Norwegian-only lyrics was issued through Malicious Records in 1996. After the release, the band had signed with Century Media and released ‘The Olden Domain’ which first featured Kai K. Lie on bass in 1997. With new members, guitarist Jens F. Ryland and singer Simen Hestnæs (also known as I.C.S. VORTEX), the group recorded ‘The Archaic Course’, released in 1998 and which was described as “an imaginative one” by Jason Anderson, AllMusic. BORKNAGAR's third album would prove to be their last recorded with drummer Grim (Erik Brødreskift) who died due to drug overdose in 1999. 2000's ‘Quintessence’, a “much less imaginative” album co-produced and mixed by Peter Tägtgren, introduced keyboardist Lars A. Nedland and drummer Asgeir Mickelson:

“Upon repeated listens, though, the listener suddenly understands BORKNAGAR's ingenious and beautiful joke. … In fact, everything seems to be subdued and buried on this release, a cruel trick, considering Tägtgren usual Abyss Studio reputation, making it uneasy and demanding on the listener,” [understood Jason Hundey, AllMusic – understand more here]

On their fifth full-length, 2001's ‘Empiricism’, vocalist Andreas Hedlund (or Vintersorg) and bassist Tyr (Jan Erik Tiwaz) replaced I.C.S. Vortex, and 2004's ‘Epic’ saw drummer Asgeir Mickelson taking upon himself bass duties. Both albums were co-produced by Børge Finstad, with ‘Epic’ being described as “particularly satisfying, distinctive, and at times even surprising release from these “black metal” veterans” by Eduardo Rivadavia, AllMusic. BORKNAGAR's entirely acoustic album ‘Origin’ followed in 2006; alongside old/new bassist Tyr, ‘Origin’ featured several guest musicians whom contributed orchestral strings and flutes. In 2008, Century Media put together a compilation of BORKNAGAR's best of the best and released it under the title ‘For The Elements (1996 – 2006)’, with it celebrating the group's 10th anniversary. ‘Universal’, their eight album, was issued through Indie Recordings; it introduced BORKNAGAR's new drummer David Kinkade (of SOULFLY fame), marked the return of guitarist Jens Ryland and hinted the reunion with I.C.S. Vortex:

BORKNAGAR: Havoc – courtesy of Indie Recordings

BORKNAGAR: Reason – courtesy of Indie Recordings

“It’s been a musical journey for us since the very beginning”, [elaborated Brun] “After the release of the acoustic effort ‘Origin’ some of the media people were calling ‘Universal’ a comeback album, but it’s more like we went back to square one. So, if ‘Universal’ was the first step on our new musical journey, ‘Urd’ is the next one. I think ‘Universal’ is a really solid album and I still like it, but we wanted to make more out of it. We wanted to make an album that was more diverse, with new elements in the music. We played to our strengths on the new album. It’s always been the nature of this band to take a step further, and even take a step broader.”

BORKNAGAR features: Vintersorg – vocals, Øystein G. Brun – guitars, Jens Ryland – guitar, I.C.S. Vortex – bass and vocals, Lars A. Nedland – keyboards and vocals and David Kinkade – drums


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