Review by Luka on May 3, 2001.
So what do Borknagar have in store for us the fourth time around? I dare not say their most professional, but "Quintessence" is certainly their most likeable album yet. Drowning in soupy synths and amazing melodies, the beautifully crafted songs of "Quintessence" instantly grab the listener’s attention and keep you enthralled straight throughout. There are too many instrument layers here to absorb everything in the first listen, and it’s a pleasure listening to it again and again.
As always, the lyrics are very elaborate but too vague, you’re never certain what the hell he’s singing about. Spiritual dimensions, ruins of the future, strange dreams, the whole supernatural deal... All meaningless squabble if you ask me, we may criticize nu-metal bands for singing about crap and pretending they’re angry and whatever, but at least it’s something relevant to real life, more than I can say for this. A lot of work is spent on the words but I’m never too sure what they’re about or why the hell I should care about it.
The singing is another thing that bothers me, the annoying multi-vocal layers that, when all mixed together, end up sounding like some fucked up choir. The "reputed" singer I.C.S. Vortex (he sings in Dimmu Borgir and Covenant too, I personally think he sucks) tries hard to avoid the traditional black metal rasp but doesn’t do a good job. The singing ends up sounding cheesy as hell, and the studio vocal effects don’t help either.
In the end, the music is the only good thing about "Quintessence". The singer really turns me off and so do the lyrics, hire a new singer or at least sing with out studio effects ‘cuz I would not buy another Borknagar album like this.
Bottom Line: Really awesome melodies try to help, but the vocals really bring everything down.
Rating: 7 out of 10