I’ve heard a lot of different descriptions of what kind of music Borknagar plays. They’ve been mostly described as Avant-garde Progressive Folk/Viking Metal, but that’s really just a fancy way of saying that Borknagar, for all of their Folk and Viking Metal heritage, is essentially a Power Metal band now. Urd has more in common with releases by Iron Savior, Iced Earth and Rhapsody than anything that could be classified as “Viking” or “Folk” Metal. There aren’t any Viking or Folk elements on this album at all, unless you count the cover art. If you were seriously looking for something in the Progressive Folk/Viking Metal vein, I’d recommend the new Einherjer album instead. It’s progressive musically, but still has the Viking/Folk elements, where Urd is lacking them. Lyrically, Urd’s central theme revolves around the apocalypse - specifically humans doing something to fuck up the environment and causing us all to die. Honestly, if I wanted to hear someone whining about how fucked up the environment is, all I have to do is walk down the street during my lunch hour and I’ll be accosted by some dreadlock-encrusted college student with a clipboard who would be more than happy to tell me all about it. I don’t need to hear about it on a Metal album unless it’s environmental revenge fantasy like The Bastard by Hammers of Misfortune (spoiler alert: the trees come to life and kill everyone). I guess that with all the 2012 Mayan calendar bullshit that’s been going on, these guys decided to cash in on the hype. Musically, this is very well played and the songs are very well thought out. This isn’t the most awesome Power Metal album ever written, but if you’re a fan of the genre, there’s a lot to like about Urd. My only real gripe stems from the fact that I was a fan of Borknagar back when they actually played Viking Metal and I was disappointed that they’ve essentially buried that past. I wanted to hear the old Borknagar. What I got was a Power Metal album instead. It was a good Power Metal album, but it wasn’t a Borknagar album. At some point, a band strays so far from their original sound that the band’s name isn’t appropriate anymore. I think Borknagar is at that point. Without the Viking/Folk elements to their sound, they’re really not the same band.
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