I still remember the first bands I listened to when I was starting my journey to the metal realm and one of them was Borknagar. The special sound that came out of “The Archaic Course” and the shock that gave me the opener “Oceans Rise” are well imprinted in my mind. Unfortunately, I didn’t follow them closely to know much about their course after that. Many years have passed from that album and the Norwegians are now releasing their eleventh full-length, a few months before celebrating twenty-five years in the scene.
This year’s work has something special, as it is the first with the latest line-up changes. Baard Kolstad (Leprous, ex-Ihsahn), an excellent drummer, left after six years. But the most important is that they are continuing without the singer Vintersorg who was in the band since 2000. According to founder and guitarist Øystein G. Brun, this album is by far the most diverse they’ve ever recorded. I can’t say that it’s true, because I know little about their discography, but I know that it’s the longest one as its nine songs last for one hour.
The style of their music is of course unchangeable compared to what I remember, this progressive viking metal that their fans love. Cold and melancholic compositions with many changes in each one, acoustic breaks, black metal outbursts, very nice atmosphere, excellent melodies and of course the special vocals of the charismatic ICS Vortex and his bandmate Lars Nedland. “Lights” is probably the best one here, “Wild Father’s Heart” is an amazing slow song, “Up North” stands out with its folk rhythm and the enchanting folk “Voices” that closes the album are some examples of brilliant songwriting.
Renowned producer Jens Bogren has done once again an amazing job, the cover is so simple but it has pure magic in it and whoever decides to purchase the digipak version will find two bonus tracks. “Wild Father’s Heart” in instrumental demo version and “Up North” also in demo version. As mentioned above, I don’t know if “True North” is the most diverse album of the band, but is seems about time to start looking deeper into their discography.