Scandinavian progressive metal tends to have a certain grandiosity and bombast about it that seems unparallelled by the rest of the world. We’ve been singing the praises of this particular subsection of music for some time now, what with Ihsahn, Enslaved, SHINING, Vintersorg, and more coming out over the years with strong records that capture the region’s unique musical nuance. One band in particular that has engrained themselves as a part of the growing attention brought to the region is Norway’s Leprous. Breaking out with the critical hit of their sophomore record Bilateral in 2011 and gaining notoriety as Ihsahn’s designated live band, they became a band to watch in 2013 as they prepared their follow-up, Coal. It’s certainly one of our most anticipated records this year, and we’re proud to present the band’s first single from the album, ‘Chronic,’ below.
I had pretty much zero expectations from 2012, but it turned out to be an awesome year. This time, I have quite a bit of expectations from 2013, so it will probably be even better. Without further ado, let’s get down to it!
Leprous – TBA Third Album (Inside Out)
Since the first time I’ve heard Leprous, my tastes in music have been slowly changed by them. Bilateral is my second all-time favorite album (more on #1 later), I’ve become a huge fan of Nordic progressive metal, and that shows in this list. I love both Leprous albums and both EPs, so it’s safe to say that I’m looking forward to this release. Leprous’s blend of progressive metal is very heavy on the emotions, carried by Einar Solberg’s powerful voice and excellent songwriting by everyone in the band. They said that they’re hoping that the new album will be “great and a bit different”, which sounds exciting. They’ve posted a studio video which you can view here. The song they’re working on sounds heavier and more upbeat than some songs on Bilateral, and that will probably turn out to be awesome.
01. Thoughts Like Hammers
02. Death in the Eyes of Dawn
04. Roots of the Mountain
07. Storm of Memories
Nordic Prog giants Enslaved work like clockwork. Since 2004, they’ve consistently made a great album every 2 years. After 2010′s great Axioma Ethica Odini (that admittedly had some flaws, but was still great), they come back this year with RIITIIR. If you don’t know what Enslaved sound like, think Borknagar but with less synths and upbeatness and more black metal. Even though they started out their career rooted firmly in black metal, they kept pushing the boundaries of the genre until they broke through, just like the visionary Ihsahn. But after so many years of being at or near the top of the genre-pushing game, do Enslaved still have something relevant to say with RIITIIR? The short answer is: Yes, most definitely. This album is brilliant. The long answer is after the cut:
02. Ur stjärnstoft är vi komna
06. Havets nåd
Vintersorg, which is more or less the solo project of Swedish prog genius Andreas Hedlund, is definitely one of the bigger names in the progressive/blackened/folk metal scene. As its predecessor Jordpuls, Orkan is a part of a series of concept albums on the four elements. Jordpuls was the earth, and Orkan is, contrary to the water-filled cover, the air. Orkan means hurricane, and somehow the sound of the album is reminiscent of being in a cold, windy landscape. It’s a hard feeling to explain, but the best of atmospheric prog metal albums always have their own mood, their own world that they draw you into. So what kind of world does Vintersorg beckon you towards in Orkan?
A couple of months ago I reviewed the new Borknagar album Urd, and I thought it was pretty rad. Featuring the brains behind Arcturus, Vintersorg and Ulver and ICS Vortex, Borknagar is in some sorts a Nordic blackened prog metal supergroup. They’ve just released a video for one of the more atmospheric tracks from Urd, ‘Earthling’, and you can watch it below.
It’s a simple but effective video that captures the earthly themes of the album. Vintersorg’s vocals are especially prominent in this song, and if you like this song you should also check his new album Orkan, which came out recently. Check back soon for my review of that one as well!
You know, the more I listen to music, the more I’m convinced that Nordic prog is best prog. Vintersorg, who also happens to be one of the singers on the latest Borknagar album, has a new album coming up titled Orkan. There’s a new track that’s being previewed from Orkan, and you can listen to it right now.
To be honest, it’s not anything mindblowing but it’s just very solid and enjoyable to listen to. I love the ability of Vintersorg to paint a texture and put the listener right in the middle of it. You can also listen to the title track of the album after the jump, and if you like what you hear, Orkan will be available on Napalm Records on June 29th in Europe and July 10th in USA/Canada!
01. Above And Beyond
02. Flooding Light
03. In The Eyes Of The Mournuing
04. Aisle of Array
05. Past The Gates
06. Still The Spirit Stays
07. In Endless Endeavor
09. Lines Of Silver Blood
Someone has to popularize the term Nordic Progressive Metal. With bands like Leprous,Ihsahn, Shining, Enslaved, Vintersorg, ICS Vortex and Borknagar, there’s clearly something brewing up there in the northern regions of Europe. Cue Oddland, a Finnish quartet who won a national metal competition to get signed on Century Media. And they definitely fit in line with the mentioned bands as a force to be reckoned with in Progressive Metal. Imagine the groovy undertones of Gojira, Meshuggah and Lamb of God employed in a Leprous-like flamboyant progressive fashion. Imagine vocals that sound like Daniel Gildenlow of Pain of Salvation. And odd mix, is it not? Well, that’s what Oddland sounds like. Their debut album The Treachery of Senses is an enjoyable and refreshing joyride of progressive metal that will hopefully establish Oddland as a force to be reckoned with.
03. The Beauty of Dead Cities
04. The Earthling
05. The Plains of Memories
06. Mount Regency
08. The Winter Eclipse
09. In A Deeper World
10. The Age of Creation (Bonus Track)
11. My Friend of Misery (Bonus Track)
Norwegian progressive black metal giants Borknagar are back! Admittedly, they hadn’t gone anywhere, but ICS Vortex is back in the band, and his heavenly voice graces us once again. Borknagar are known for questioning and redefining what black metal is. It’s quite impressive that they can still do it 17 years after their formation, on their 10th album. This album is definitely more progressive than black, but it still has its roots deeply entrenched in Norway’s finest musical export. For those unfamiliar with Borknagar, they take the fundamentals of black metal (screeching vocals, fast drumming, tremolo picking and dreary chords) and expand upon them. They also use symphonic elements to create a haunting atmosphere that is explored with all the fervor of a true progressive band. Urd is yet another exploration along these lines, this time dealing with the themes of the world tree Yggdrasil, nature, and the interconnectedness of it all.
Norwegian progressive black metal giants Borknagar never fail to impress. Looking at the lineup, they have Vintersorg and ICS Vortex of Arcturus/Dimmu Borgir on vocals, and a killer back catalogue, so it shouldn’t be surprising that their forthcoming new album Urd is sounding great already.
Metal Hammer Germany have premiered a track called ‘Roots’ on their website, which features the majestic voices of both aforementioned singers. The song is proggy and black as all hell, and although it’s not the most exciting song ever, it’s fairly solid and has served its purpose of getting me excited for the album. Exactly why we have teasers like this, no?
Urd is due out March 26th on Century Media Records. Hail Borknagar!