Borknagar Universal

Borknagar Universal
Universal is both laidback and busy, which may be a sign of Borknagar's typically bold intentions here (if the album title wasn't signal enough). The band's eighth record is in constant motion, though its multiple parts don't always move in the same direction. That minor metal personality disorder and a familiar range of synth sounds serve as a quick reminder of Borknagar's progressive leanings. And it's the progressive element that's in control most of the time, tinged with a little folk, neo-classical and '70s prog. The faster, harsher blackened moments feel more like transitions pushing the whole thing forward. There's a lot for the ears in these eight tracks, making Universal a potential grower for dedicated fans or ambitious listeners. But there's not enough available on the surface to guarantee less committed metalheads will hang around to let the complexity unfold. In the end, the title promises more than the record can deliver. (The End)