by Trevor Portz
Staff Writer –
After a four-year wait between Solens Rötter and Jordpuls, the members of Vintersorg—Andreas Hedlund and Mattias Marklund—have returned to a regular, annual album release schedule. Orkan, Swedish for “hurricane,” picks up where its predecessor left off, and though still well done, it would appear quantity has won out over quality in the Vintersorg camp.
For a new listener, perhaps Orkan could be seen as a stellar piece of extreme metal art. Perhaps some long-time fans will even see it that way. But ultimately, what this album lacks is personality. Each of Vintersorg’s previous albums contained a uniqueness that set it apart from the others, yet also fit perfectly into the Vintersorg tapestry. Whether it was the uber-prog-influenced Visions from the Spiral Generator, or the folk-tinged Ödemarkens Son, one never knew exactly what to expect with each album, yet was assured it would be epic, melodic, complicated and memorable. Herein lies Orkan’s problem—the ingredients are all there, from the layered instrumentation to the alternating harsh and clean vocals, but there’s nothing to differentiate it from previous Vintersorg albums. It almost feels like a paint-by-numbers record—the type of album generally reserved for pop stars and contractual obligations.
What also helps to keep this album identity-free is the melding of all projects that Mr. V is involved in. Vintersorg, Cronian, Waterclime, Fission and Borknagar slowly seem to be turning into the same thing. The lines between the projects blur more with each release, bringing into question if there’s even a reason to give them different names. Additionally, with so many projects going on concurrently, it seems the songwriting is beginning to suffer. This isn’t to say that Mr. V is out of riffs, or that his best writing days are behind him, but perhaps it’s time to focus on just one project. Or maybe it’s time to take a break and instead work on something totally different, such as the sorely missed folk metal of Otyg.
So while Orkan is a well-executed album by one of metal’s most talented duos, it doesn’t boast a unique identity, something previous Vintersorg (and related albums) have displayed. There really aren’t any standout tracks, but there aren’t any awful tracks either. Everything is very middle-of-the road.
But hey, what band hasn’t had an album like that?
Genre: Prog, Black, Folk Metal
Andreas Hedlund (vocal, guitars, keys, programming, etc)
Mattias Marklund (guitar)
2. Ur Stjärnstoft Är Vi Komna
6. Havets Nåd
Label: Napalm Records
Hardrock Haven rating: 6/10