BORKNAGAR could almost be labelled Progressive Black Metal, if it is possible at all to narrow down this band to one common ground. Ever since their foundation the Norwegians eluded the standard categorisations by incorporating a wide variety of different influences and elements and their fifth album "Empiricism" is no different.
What has changed is mainly the post of singer, which has been awarded to none other than Swedish Vintersorg, which has been a brilliant move, because his incredibly variable and absolutely unique voice, which we all know from VINTERSORG, HAVAYOTH and OTYG, leaves its very distinct mark on the at times quite complex compositions.
BORKNAGAR never had been easy listening and this hasn't changed, if you're looking for an album to listen to while doing something else and just bang along, then "Empiricism" for sure is nothing for you, too multi-layered and complex are the songs. That the collective line-up around mastermind Řystein G. Brun is in the premier division of musicianship also is an open secret, to perform the song-material of "Empiricism" they also need their class.
There are people, who will have their problems with the big variability of the songs and maybe view the many different influences as lack of orientation, while the fans will call it variable and versatile. I, for my part, am most probably somewhere in the second category, because BORKNAGAR take you on a journey through their own soundscape, which is very difficult to transfer into mere words. To pick out single songs out of this overall artwork is also quite hard, because each track for its own is a sonic sculpture of its own, still I'd like to mention "The Genuine Pulse", "Gods Of My World", "Soul Sphere" and "Inherit The Earth" just as well as "The Stellar Dome" and "The View Of Everlast" (you could call that one a ballad), just to show you the variability of this exceptional band.
The mentioned songs masterfully combine epics and cold ferocity, warm melodylines and avantgardistic passages, clean vocals with dark screeching, some within one song, which also clearly demands some openness of the listener.
If you are willing to provide this and also give the album the time it needs to fully unfold and yourself to find your way into it, then I can guarantee you that you will get an absolutely unique and very variable album, which will retain its appeal for a long time indeed!