Friday, March 18, 2011

Weekly Dose of Prog: Borean Dusk - Borean Dusk

Trying something a little different today, Borean Dusk melds progressive metal with folk sounds and melodies (keeping with my Current Trend of folk). Oh yea, it's all instrumental too, although I wasn't expecting it to be that way when I first started the album. Keeping you all on your toes.

The songs off of Borean Dusk are all very long, with four tracks coming in at almost a hour long (although Metal Archives has a much different track listing then my copy does, but mine matches with their website, so I think I'm right), so there are some evolutions of tracks, which add to the interest and liveliness of the entire album. It is through these progressions of sound and style that really kept my attention focused. Borean Dusk didn't fall into the crux of so many other instrumental acts, of coming off dull, repetitive and/or boring.

I'll tell you what, I was initially surprised by Borean Dusk, as the first sounds came off very folk. Their debut album begins with a quick acoustic melody with light drums, coming off as a semi-jig, of the old Irish/Celtic tradition. After a minute or so, the song, "Wolf-Totem," moves into the electric realm, and much heavier drums, but I know that first lick is what will stick in my head. As the song progressed I started to pick up some resemblance of Iron Maiden's sounds, most notably their song "Transylvania," followed directly by what sounded like a blacksmith's hammer striking steel, bringing about the end the song. Kind of an interesting progression.

The second track, "Blood On The Hoar-Frost," begins very-much-folk just like it's predecessor, but this time using percussion as the focal point. There is a simple rhythm played on some old-fashioned-sounding heads, with a warbling tune in the background (I'm assuming guitar, but I'm not 100%), before slowly amping up the energy with more and more sounds and instruments being added as time goes on. By the five minute-mark all of the folk elements have been replaced by their modern-electric counterparts. I have to say I like the folk-style more, but it is very interesting and entertaining how they get there. This song is longer then the first at fourteen minutes long (but only the second longest of the album), so there was more time for the song to progress through styles; I distinctly heard some groove-laden metal with serious shredding peeking in there periodically, before regressing back to the folk for the end. The nice thing is that it was a different folk style/sound then what was heard at the beginning, having mainly acoustic guitar and bass, with just cymbals as emphasis and the only percussion heard. The folk book-ended the song, but in much different ways and feels.

"Scarab Wings and Scorpion Eyes" sounds vaguely middle-eastern/Indian, at least for the opening folk-riff, bringing about different thoughts then the first two. It quickly moves into the electric-style, with nothing more then thirty seconds devoted to the instruments of old. When the drums and electric guitars came in though, they came in swinging for the fences. There is a dueling guitar theme that ebbs and flows throughout the track, something very popular with NWOBHM and power metal acts. It really lets your mind become entombed within the layers of sound that Borean Dusk is putting out there. After the few minutes of dueling sounds, the song moves into a slow thrash/groove metal rhythm/riff, which gets your head bobbing and your body moving. This song sounds more like something that should have come from the 80s prog/thrash scene, with the quick melodies and rhythms, all with an amazing guitar weaving from the foreground to the background, and the periodical solo over it all. This time, when the folk melody returns, it's still when the song has six minutes left, first with just the strings (guitar, Irish Bouzouki, and Mandolin) for three minutes, then with drums slowly being added, and finally a return of the electric instruments and groove rhythms to finish out the final two minutes of the song (also with a sweet sounding walking bass line). This is the longest song on Borean Dusk (over nineteen minutes long), so while it does have the most time to scroll through styles, it is the most repetitive song of the album. I could see obvious repeating melodies where lyrics would have been great to be added, so it seemed to be written that way (while the others didn't have such obvious spaces for lyrics). The song is still enjoyable, but not to the same level as the rest.

Thus ending the album, "Lord of The Tundra" is aptly titled. This track begins with a lightness that I haven't heard sense the first track, with just the guitars and the wailing of the wind (in the background) for accompaniment. Eventually (as expected), the song turns from folk to metal, but this time much more abruptly then any time that has come before. While "Scarab Wings and Scorpion Eyes" tread the lines between NWOBHM and groove/thrash, "Lord of The Tundra" comes off a little more like stoner metal; with the heavy fuzz and a chugging sequence of guitars and drums. It's a little repetitive, but easily accessible and enjoyable. It actually reminds me of a shitty little garage band I was a part of in high school, and the one tape with our shitty little demo on it. As I mentioned, we were shitty and we never did a damn thing for the band, but the grooves with the guitars is tapping my memories of that year of my life, so the song is speaking to me personally.

What amazed me about an act like Borean Dusk is how fresh they get their music to sound. You'd think for a hour of instrumental progressive folk music, there would be a theme or sound that they rehash or something that sounds very close to something else, but this is not the case. Each song is in it's own package, with it's own style, evolution and layers for you to unwrap and enjoy. It's instrumental without being boring, full of progressive metal, and kind of light on the folk (choose the good and the bad from that). Borean Dusk is full of vim and vigor, a real interesting act, and a real pleasure to listen to.

No comments: