Borknagar – Fall

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Norway's progressive/folk metal quintet Borknagar delivers another stunning album “Fall” out now via Century Media Records on February 23rd, 2024. The 12th studio album truly captures the essence of Borknagar where the band continues its legacy with the guitarist and founder Øystein Garnes Brun, vocalist bassist ICS Vortex (ex-Dimmu Borgir, Arcturus), vocalist and keyboardist Lars A. Nedland (Solefald), drummer Bjørn Dugstad Rønnow and, lead guitarist Jostein Thomassen. “Fall” follows in the melodious spectrum of “True North” as there is a balance between the guitars, clean and harsh black metal vocals, and the keyboards sweeping in vividly, but for the most part, the songwriting is quite catchy.

The majestic opening of “Summits” perfectly combines the elements of black metal, bringing some epic moments with blast beats and creative use of the keyboards. ICS Vortex vocals are remarkable as always and very finely enhanced by the depth of the sweeping keyboards. There is an abundance of melodies to create a wintry aura, showing how coherent the band has become through time. The role of the lead guitars offers an emotional effect, the significance of the dual vocals stands out throughout the album.

The riffs beautifully integrate and imbue an epic quality to the following track “Nordic Anthems” which presents some unique atmosphere. And the interplay between the dual vocals of ICS Vortex and Lars A. Nedland combining their talents, the resulting combo is intense, engaging, and immensely catchy.

It is hard to know who is singing on every track though most of the songs deliver complex and epic compositions. Some similar hints on this song somehow remind me of the track “Voices” which was featured on the previous album “True North“. However, the bombastic arrangements filled with some rocking riffs boasting some energetic vibes and pompous song structures, and the intriguing layering of the vocals and the lead guitars at times has an elegant touch. The refined manner is expertly showcased in “Afar” where aggression and dynamics are propelled by powerful drumming, sometimes the atmospheric segments draw beautiful landscapes.

The powerful vocals add that Viking-tinged black metal majesty indicates that Borknagar on its newest album explores its roots in a sophisticated and masterful performance. Proggy synth leaves a mark on songs like “Moon” and it feels as if the melodies and the clean vocals interweave to create dynamic vibes and warm keyboards without making it sound corny. The atmosphere on the other hand, it is focused on maintaining the flow of the rhythm, the performance of the drums are potent, and they add powerful dynamics to the songs.

The trademark element shines while the hooks come in abundance and the thundering riffage offers a vital mixture of various soundscapes that wraps some explosive guitar solos to the mix. “Fall” illustrates the aesthetic hallmark of these Norwegian veterans, lending a mixture of progressive and glorious Viking/black metal in a satisfying variation of these elements.

The sonic evolution of Borknagar constantly builds on creative lead guitar segments that inject some spacey sounds akin to Arcturus and Enslaved through the use of the keyboards and rhythm-laden arrangement on “Stars Ablaze”. The progressive guitar textures bring hints from the modern folk-styled black metal, while the drums up the tempo and blast your ears with sporadic blast beats and double bass.

The bombastic swagger of the quintet on “Unraveling” is full of grandeur and energetic riffing combining the catchy dual vocals of Lars and ICS Vortex, always the guitars are the backbone of the music. The guitar leads are simultaneously catchy and captivating, however, mid-tempo and faster percussive sections give enough space for the melodies and atmosphere to shine. The powerful choruses are more emphasized on “The Wild Lingers”. The song’s atmosphere is perfect, and laden proggy riffs grace our ears with the emotional hooks of these impeccably melodic vocal duets, albeit the slower tempos the atmosphere soon becomes ravished by the spectacular guitar lines.

There is a great deal regarding the songwriting prowess and the expertise of guitarist Øystein Garnes Brun on the 12th album. The production is fairly balanced allowing a myriad of beautiful guitar textures and vocal layering to infuse within the songs, therefore the changes of pace, tempo, and melodies come as naturally as the changes of the seasons. The almost ten-minute finale of the album “Northward” has the grandeur of a true epic beauty of atmospheric luster, and it seems like Borknagar puts effort into highlighting its sonic trademarks.

The refined and re-invention of the sonic style appears to be fully coherent on Borknagar’s 12th album, giving an instant impression of Viking black metal, the raspy vocals and the thundering percussion set a coherent approach in a more modern take.


  • Music / Songwriting 9/10
  • Vocals / Lyrics 9/10
  • Mix / Production 10/10
  • Artwork & Packaging 8/10
  • Originality 9/10

From “Winter Thrice” to “True North” Borknagar never ceases to impress the fans and the newest album “Fall” heralds a bright new chapter that is already foreseen up in the northern stars.

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