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Borknagar is a progressive black metal band from Bergen, Norway, founded in 1995 by Øystein Garnes Brun. The band's style combines black metal and folk metal with progressive and melodic elements. Borknagar's lyrics often deal with philosophy, paganism, nature, and the cosmos.
Borknagar was founded by Øystein Brun, then a member of the Norwegian death metal band Molested, when he became tired of the brutal aspects of the band's music. Øystein formed Borknagar to explore a more melodic outlet of expression, inspired by the burgeoning black metal movement Norway was experiencing and looking to push the boundaries of what was considered "traditional" black metal music. He wrote all of the music and lyrics, and gathered together an all-star group of black metal musicians to play in his band, such as Infernus of Gorgoroth, Grim of Immortal and Gorgoroth, and Ivar Bjørnson of Enslaved. When Garm of Ulver, Head Control System, and Arcturus joined the project, it brought the band immediate attention. The band never even recorded a demo; they simply asked for a record contract on Malicious Records and were granted their request based on the strength of this lineup. Borknagar's music instantly gained fans and received positive press attention. In 1999, Grim committed suicide using sleeping pills. He was replaced by Justin Greaves who left shortly after to be replaced by Asgeir Mickelson.
Borknagar has released eleven albums to date. Their self-titled debut album features lyrics solely in Norwegian; all subsequent albums have featured lyrics written in English exclusively (however, The Olden Domain featured an instrumental track titled in Norwegian). Aside from Brun's lyrical contributions, the band has featured lyrics by other members as well: ICS Vortex from Arcturus and ex-Dimmu Borgir, drummer Asgeir Mickelson, keyboardist Lars Nedland and more recently by current vocalist Vintersorg from Otyg and his eponymous band. Bassist Jan Erik Tiwaz (a.k.a. Tyr) wrote the song 'The View of Everlast'. All of the band's records (excluding the original pressing of the debut album) have been released by the label Century Media. Borknagar has toured with various bands including Emperor, Peccatum, In Flames, Morbid Angel, and Cradle of Filth.
Drummer Dave Kinkade announced on his official Facebook page on 25 October 2011 that he had "mutually parted ways with Borknagar" and that he'll "be focusing 100% on Soulfly now". On 22 February 2012 it was announced on the Norwegian website Artisan that the new drummer for the band would be Baard Kolstad. Throughout 2014, and into 2015, the band had been hard at work writing and recording their next full-length album, Winter Thrice. Production had to be delayed due to injuries vocalist Vintersorg suffered in late 2014 but the recording was concluded in June. Original vocalist Kristoffer Rygg provided guest vocals on the aforementioned record.
In early 2019, it was reported that long-time vocalist Vintersorg has parted ways with the band due to conflicting issues with his work and family, as well as the after effects of his 2014 injuries. The split was amicable and he has not ruled out being a guest on a future album. As well, drummer Baard Kolstad had left his position due to lack of time due to his other in-demand projects. ICS Vortex has since reassumed the role of lead vocalist, and Kolstad was replaced by Bjørn Dugstad Rønnow (at Kolstad's recommendation). Despite these setbacks, Borknagar released their eleventh album, True North, on 27 September 2019.
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