Some musicians develop a unique sound over the years, and tend to apply that winning formula across several bands, while still coming up with fresh sounding material. Musicians Øystein Brun and Andreas Hedlund are two of the most respected musicians in the Avant-Garde Metal community, as they’ve respectively lead Borknagar and Vintersorg since the late 90’s with 8 albums each to this date.
Halfway through their careers, both Oystein and Andreas finally joined forces due to a shared vision that was manifested through both lyrical themes and musical expression, and thus the band Cronian was finally born, with its first album ‘Terra’ being released in 2006 and with a total of 2 albums to date.
Borknagar’s most recent release ‘Universal’ ended up on plenty of ‘Top albums of 2010’ lists and is considered as the band’s most accomplished release. Its lyrical themes tackled topics such as nature, philosophy and metaphysics, and the colossal musical content was only matched by such a broad album title. Brun further supported the album when he added that ‘There is an attitude, energy and nerve to this record that will appeal to the most primal side of man, yet there is complexity and atmosphere that will challenge the most sophisticated parts of mind.’
‘Universal’ had it all: melody, structure, compelling energy and epic choirs that would send send shivers down one’s spine. Distinguishable vocal styles used here aren’t strange to longtime fans, as well as the numerous genres that shape the songs, but that might take some getting used to for first time listeners. Here’s “Worldwide” from ‘Universal’:
On the other hand, Vintersorg’s latest album ‘Jordpuls’ (Swedish for ‘Earth Pulse’) is a well appraised return to the band’s earlier sound. The band mixes folk music with black metal and progressive elements, and the album’s lyrical topics (completely sung in Swedish) are about the relation between Man and Nature – an emotional and philosophical approach that has always been a part of Vintersorg’s music throughout the years. Hedlund also stated in an interview with MetalPsalter.com (check the full interview here) that ‘The harsh parts feel very harsh, but the more epic and intricate parts has the sound qualities that they need as well. Our music is quite diverse, so the production issue is always a bit tricky to solve, but I feel that this time, we did a great job to pay attention to all the details needed’.
Indeed, the musicianship level on the album is quite creative, with plenty of catchy details in every track, whether it’s the acoustic guitars or the medieval instruments that support the rich melodic layering and the highly enjoyable vocal harmony of Hedlund himself. Put simply, Vintersorg is a band with two faces, a growling and grim Black Metal face and a moving / motivating folky one led by vocal harmony and melodic tunes, and the transition between the two is as classy as it gets, making ‘Jordpuls’ one of the best releases of 2011 so far and surely the band’s most complete release to date. Here’s “Till Dånet Av Forsar Och Fall” from ‘Jordpuls’:
Last but definitely not least, Cronian’s most recent album ‘Enterprise’ was an instant success in the Avant-Garde Metal community, and more specifically to fans of Brun and Hedlund themselves. Without straying too much from the grounds which Borknagar and Vintersorg are built upon, ‘Enterprise’ brought forth an even bigger cinematic/soundtrack approach, was a successful contribution to the ‘Thinking Man’s Metal’ collection, and was very thought-provoking in terms of sending a warning message to mankind and its ongoing abuses to nature and the globe.
Brun shared his opinion on the music itself by saying that ‘Generally I would say that the music is very visual, maybe it could work as a movie soundtrack if you stripped away the metal elements.’ For more information on the album, you can read our review here. Here’s “Diamond Skies” from ‘Enterprise’:
So here you go, 3 bands, 2 musicians and one vision that added their unique stamp on the Metal world for over a decade now. For those who are interested in more projects involving these 2 musicians, you can find the full lists on the artists’ respective Wiki pages (check the links below).