Borknagar – Winter Thrice (Century Media)

Genre: Progressive Black Metal

Borknagar’s multi-hued, epic take on black metal has always enthralled… and like fellow Norwegians Enslaved, the band have never let their roots become a straightjacket. They are progressive in the truest sense of the word, using BM as a foundation to create great rock music and soaring ever higher as the years have gone by.

After two decades, though, you might have forgiven Borknagar for going a bit stale, their creative wellspring drying up.

Winter Thrice, however, sees Øystein G. Brun and his cohorts strike gold once again, with no sign of the spark fading. Majestic melodies sweep through each track, whether delivered by the band’s four vocalists (including original singer Garm, of Ulver fame) or via the riffs of Brun and Jens F. Ryland, and there’s so much depth to songs like Terminus and Erodent that they deserve repeated exploration.

Plus, even long time fans will still be amazed at Borknagar’s ability to effortlessly switch gear between calmer, gentler passages and moments of thunderous, metallic might – no better illustrated than on opener The Rhymes of the Mountain. The track’s evolution – and its mid-point transition especially – will see jaws drop.

One of the finest, most visionary groups to emerge from the Norwegian black metal scene has returned in style: what a way to mark your 20th anniversary.

RUSHONROCK RATED: 8.5/10 Snow Storm