Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Bornholm - March for Glory and Revenge (2009)

Six years is quite the stretch between albums, but Hungarians Bornholm have put the time to good use, crafting a worthy successor to their debut ...On the Way of the Hunting Moon. The nine new tracks showcase the band's heathen, hammering affection for both the charge to battle and the subtle glories of times past, and perhaps times to come. The March for Glory and Revenge steers the band on a collision path with many others who match the gallant, snarling black metal aesthetic with epic synthesizers and acoustics, but Bornholm proceeds to trample many of them straight into the dust.

Faded armor, rusty blades
Once they were knights,
Once they fought
A sound reflecting throughout the graves
Heroes of honour singing
Dark, mournful hymns

One of the album's obvious strengths is the mix. So many of these pagan/folk black metal bands dwell within the margin of oblivious production values, but Bornholm has torn a page directly from the bible of Blood, Fire Death and studied it well. The guitars and vocals take the center stage, black as pitch and effectively capturing the lost glories of their lyrical matter like flies in amber. The synthesizers perform their function admirably, as a backdrop to provide gravitas for the metal cavalry, and when this band decides to open their throats to some cleaner emissions, they don't sound like awkward fools who decided to form a band at last month's Renaissance Faire.

This is also a subtle album: not subtle in its clarion call to warfare, not subtle in kicking your face in with its steed, but subtle in that its charms grow upon you without the need for sickly memorable melodies. This is WAR, and you are on the BATTLEFIELD. Behold the leering greatness of "Towering Clouds Over the Fields in Carnumtum", or the savage hedge of spears thrust forward through "Light Burst Into Flames on the Horns of Baphomet", or the longing bliss of "Consecrating the Spear of Destiny". Bornholm has also taken an interesting approach which lyrically combines the occult with anti-Roman myth and history.

Oh, cold carpathian wind
I hear your call, bringer of storms
The stars shining above the mountains
Like lights above the graves

March for Glory and Revenge is a lot of fun, and a triumph for the Hungarians, one you will come to know within minutes of first listening to its "Call of the Heathen Horns". A more than adequate celebration of olde.

Highlights: Mournful Hymns, Towering Clouds Over the Fields in Carnumtum, Light Burst Into Flames on the Horns of Baphomet, Consecrating the Spear of Destiny

Verdict: Win [8.5/10] (blood flows from the throat of the mountains)


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