Review by Jack on October 11, 2001.
“Borknagar” is a damn fine and ultra-slick black metal debut, in anyone’s standards. If Emperor could have released a debut that displayed such musicianship as this... well they would be happier than they are now.
Despite “Borknagar” being reviewed 5-6 years later than its original release date, Borknagar’s debut album still packs quite a few punches that the unexpected black enthusiast might find quite thrilling.
Being a 5-6 year old album, one would expect pretty murky and muddy production values, well I would expect it anyway. However, the truth with “Borknagar” is that the production is fine for such a vintage classic. Every instrument can be heard clearly and Garm’s Ahhhhh’s!!! shines through admirably.
A point relating to Garm’s Ahhhhh’s, Borknagar were not only one of the first bands to use clean vocals in black metal, they were one of the first bands to effectively use clean vocals in black metal. ‘Dauden’ is shining example of how the cleanliness of the voice should be utilised in a black record. ‘Krigsstev’ is also a more black and white example of Ahhhhh (all Garm does in that track is ‘Ahhhhh’).
Ten tracks on “Borknagar” are interspersed so fantastically that it follows the format of rather complicated poem. Once you’ve had enough of one heavy, speed black tune along comes a lovely acoustic interlude that you can sway along in the breeze in, “Borknagar” shifts so seamlessly between movements that is a joy to be part of.
Bottom Line: Well if you are a Borknagar fanatic and fan who must own everything Borknagar has done, then their self titled album is for you. There are a lot of elements on “Borknagar” you will not find on their newer releases, the brilliant instrumental pieces and brutal speed black metal, which subsided into the atmosphere with “The Archaic Course”. Ahhhhhh!
Rating: 7.5 out of 10