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True North
SEP 2019
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ICS Vortex
(Bass, Clean Vocals and Choirs)
Øystein G. Brun
(Clean and Electric Guitars )
Lars A. Nedland
(Keys, Clean Vocals and Choirs)
Bjørn Dugstad Rønnow
Jostein Thomassen
(Lead Guitars)

"I always strive to progress and take things a step further, but I think it's equally important to keep our musical roots." - Øystein G. Brun

Formed in 1996, forward-thinking Norwegian black metal band BORKNAGAR will celebrate 20 years of activities with the release of their new opus, “Winter Thrice”. The brainchild of guitarist Øystein G. Brun, formerly of Molested, BORKNAGAR has come a long way since their low-key self-titled debut, evolving up to their Century Media Records debut “The Olden Domain” (1997), truly taking root with the release of the epic “Universal” record in 2010. By no means has BORKNAGAR discarded their original black metal sound; it has become merely a small part of a much larger monster.

“We definitely started out as a black metal band, musically speaking” says Brun, “but I've always tried to reach outside of that niche. It's important for me as a musician and a composer to try and create music that's difficult to categorize. It should be about breaking musical boundaries and surprising people. I don't want to be running around in circles, and it's always been my mission to break boundaries. There are some black metal influences in the music even now from time to time, but the music in BORKNAGAR is so much broader than that, whether it's classical music or hard rock elements as part of what we're doing. It's something we've tried to do more and more with each album.”

From the opening riff of “The Rhymes Of The Mountain” to the closing blastbeat-powered Pink Floyd-flavoured epic “Terminus”, “Winter Thrice” is an unrelenting rollercoaster of dynamics and atmosphere. Let the album play from beginning to end and one can compare it to the soundtrack for an 8-act performance, each song representing a different face of BORKNAGAR while remaining interconnected. This is perhaps best represented by mid-album track “Panorama” which boasts metal, progressive, folk and classic 70s rock elements in the space of 6 minutes. “Winter Thrice”, the group’s 10th studio album release, doesn’t merely pick up where previous album “Urd” (2012) left off, but builds on the themes Brun and his bandmates created as far back as “The Olden Domain”.

Brun: “I always try to make a new album that has the qualities of the previous one. I have an eclectic hindsight to my own music, trying to find what made each album great. Not the guitar riffs, not the drumming, not the basic ideas, but taking the flavour of those songs and putting them on the new album. We do that lyrically from time to time as well by referencing old songs, maybe including some of the same lines from an older BORKNAGAR song. I try to make all these musical branches come together.”

Part of the magic in BORKNAGAR stems from a line-up of musicians who are accomplished artists in their own right. Brun lays the foundation for every album, but he freely admits it’s the collaboration with Vintersorg (Cronian, Vintersorg), ICS Vortex (Arcturus, Dimmu Borgir), Lars A. Nedland (Solefald), Jens F. Ryland and Baard Kolstad (Leprous, Rendezvous Point) that makes BORKNAGAR’s music unique on the metal scene today.

“It's like doing a black and white drawing; that's my signature,” Brun explains. “All the other guys contribute to colour in that picture. The pre-production versions of the songs sound the same in terms of structure, but when Lars and Vortex come in to play their parts, for example, they offer up their own musical interpretation of my ideas. I do tell them if I think something works or not, but I'm not a musical dictator (laughs). I always encourage the other guys to bring in music or lyrics that we can work into the songs."

“Winter Thrice”, which - just like “Urd” - was once again mixed by Jens Bogren (Opeth, Kreator, Amon Amarth, etc.) at Fascination Street Studios and packaged in artwork by Marcelo Vasco / P2RDesign (Slayer, Machine Head, Soulfly, etc.), is unique to the BORKNAGAR catalogue also because it features four vocalist parts, including the return of original singer and Ulver-mastermind Kristoffer Rygg, a.k.a. Garm, who left the band following “The Olden Domain”. There was never any bad blood spilled, and his return was directly influenced by the fact BORKNAGAR is celebrating the 20th Anniversary of their self-titled debut. According to Brun, he initially approached Garm about doing a few lines on two songs (“Winter Thrice” and “Terminus”) and offered some basic guidelines, but what he got back was far beyond his expectations: “When I listened to the stuff for the first time I was so happy. What Garm did on “Winter Thrice” is a bit different from what people might expect. Some people might think it is a bit too far off but I don’t fucking care.”

As the mastermind and overlord of the BORKNAGAR legacy, Brun regards “Winter Thrice” as the band’s finest work thus far. To his mind it encompasses everything the band has put to tape over the past two decades, from their most brutal assaults to their most experimental compositions. And all of this makes BORKNAGAR shine through in a more epic way than ever before!