Time moves fast and finally after about 25 years at least, one of Norway’s finest Metal bands finally makes it to Vancouver. The legendary Borknagar is ready to get thunderous at the Rickshaw Theatre as part of the well organized “Devastation on the Nation” tour. I know I didn’t want to miss this one, who knows if we have to wait another couple of decades, if ever, to see them here again. The type of metal they play is almost Avant-garde, with subgenres like Black metal, Folk Metal, Progressive and Viking metal and we get a good taste that mix tonight.
The band has been around since 1995 with lots of band member changes in the last 27 years. That’s not uncommon however; it’s a tough life that’s for sure. Currently the members are Oystein Brun (Since 1995, founder) on guitar, Lars Nedland on Keyboards/lead vocals, Bjorn Dugstad Rennow on Drums, Jostein Thomassen guitar, and lastly ICS Vortex on bass/lead vocals. ICS Vortex had a very big part with Dimmu Borgir with assisting in vocals and playing bass in that band. If you recall, one of the most well known Black Metal songs “Progenies of The Great Apocalypse (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NiNTrKsQ8TU) where he is pretty much the highlight with the clean vocals. So needless to say I am a fan of his and pretty excited to see what sort of part he plays tonight!
They start off with ‘The Fire that Burns’, from their latest 2019 release called “True North”. This song is a mix of Black metal vocals and clean vocals from Vortex and Nedland. This is a pretty good representation from what we get for the rest of the show. There is a very atmospheric performance with not a lot of lighting or flash, and lots of fog pumping out every couple of minutes. The guys don’t jump around or make a big production of it but in saying this, they do concentrate on getting it right which is something I would rather see.
Out of the 8 songs they do this night, I really enjoyed two from the “True North” album. The title track “True North” (song 4 tonight) felt pretty uplifting and almost happy feeling after hearing 4 straight hardcore Black metal bands prior to Borknagar (Stormruler, Vale of Pnath, Ghost Bath and Abigail Williams) this night. Can really hear the keyboards pop out front on this one. The other ‘Voices’ (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ksAcIrO1pHc) , you can really feel the Nordic influences and sound with this slower one with heavy chorus. Both Vortex and Nedlands’s voices were awesome on this one and I was very impressed.
They ended their set with ‘Winter Thrice’, which is very Scandinavian/Viking-esque like in sound and lyric. It was epic to see these guys live, don’t miss the opportunity when they come to your town with the Devastation on the Nation Tour. Check out their latest great album too “True North”!
Event review and photo gallery by Les Puchala