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Review: Borknagar - True North
True North

Label: Century Media Records
Year released: 2019
Duration: 59:11
Tracks: 9
Genre: Black/Folk Metal

Rating: 4.5/5

Review online: October 15, 2019
Reviewed by: Bruno Medeiros
Readers Rating
True North

Rated 4.64/5 (92.73%) (11 Votes)

When analyzing Borknagar's career, it becomes clear that there are two very distinct phases in their sound, somewhat similar to what bands like Amorphis and Paradise Lost have done. Instead of the raw, brutal approach of their first albums, Øystein G. Brun and his Nordic friends are betting on a more ethereal, almost progressive sound for a while now, a path that was crowned with honors on Winter Thrice (2016). True North, their eleventh studio album, follows the same approach as its predecessor did.

The winning formula of being organic, dense and even edgy at times works well once again and this time around it even comes close to being as heterogeneous as possible, as it's clear on songs like the '70s style "Up North" and "Wild Father's Heart." The avant-garde elements mixed with ICS Vortex's amazing clean vocals and the mid-tempo rhythm is well accompanied by instrumental breaks, giving the album an injection of layers and experimentation.

While the album will not dethrone juggernauts like The Olden Domain (1997) and the aforementioned Winter Thrice, True North features one of the greatest tracks in the band's history in "Voices". Haunting, sorrowful and ghostly, it will define the album and Vortex's vocals as time goes by. The guy is a monster.

What we have here is once again a thunderous (no pun intended with the song) display of a band that reinvented themselves without selling out or losing steam. The ability to write songs that are catchy and inspiring at the same time is one of Borknagar's greatest assets and definitely something rare to find. It should take more than one spin to fully grasp True North's value, but once you're lured in, it will be hard to let this go. Highly recommended.

Other related information on the site
Review: Empiricism (reviewed by Christian Renner)
Review: Quintessence (reviewed by Michel Renaud)
Review: Winter Thrice (reviewed by Bruno Medeiros)
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