Album: Winter Thrice
Record Label: Century Media
Release Date: 22nd January 2016
Norwegian progressive super-group stick to what they know best, with varying results
Though the tag 'Viking metal' runs the risk of chaining a band to a style synonymous with being un-cool, bands like luminary- studded Norwegians Borknagar and fellow countrymen Enslaved have unveiled its philosophical roots as far more widespread than tales of epic battles and mystical beasts. Just like much of their back catalogue, Winter Thrice is in awe of and supplemented by themes of origin and nature. At its most poignant it even delves into escapism that draws nearly unmissable parallels to reality.
Grandiose and frost-bitten from the start, the refreshing sense of shamelessness that runs through Winter Thrice is set in stone. The myriad of melodies explored on 'Rhymes of the Mountain' are far more direct than the somewhat lazy sonic comparisons to Enslaved would have listeners believe. The stark synths on 'Cold Runs the River' suit the song and album's aesthetic craftily, but best of all is the sprawling positivity of 'Panorama', complete with a scorching '70's corgi-esque keyboard lead and lyrical musings about evolution and civilisation.
Unfortunately however, the almost complete lack of deviation from the album's blackened progressive blueprint becomes a rather cumbersome weight during it's second half. Only the sometimes lilting 'Noctilucent' provides a needed breather from the template, which causes the longer form tracks to fade from memory without much of a lasting impact.
Borknagar understand what they can do most effectively and utilise it to occasionally beautiful moments here. Fans embroiled in the band's character will likely find little to complain about here.
Key Tracks: 'Panorama', 'Rhymes of the Mountain', 'Noctilucent'
For Fans Of: Opeth, Dimmu Borgir, Anathema