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A combination side project and supergroup of the Norwegian black metal scene, Borknagar members Oystein G. Brun (guitar, ex-Molested), Garm (vocals, also of Ulver and Arcturus), Ivar Bjornson (keyboards, ex-Enslaved), Infernus (bass), and Grim (drums; also of Immortal and Gorgoroth) started their own project in 1995. Not wasting any time, their self-titled debut came out early the following year on Malicious Records, and landed them a deal with Century Media Records soon thereafter. Kai Lie replaced Infernus for their second album The Olden Domain in 1997, and Borknagar undertook a full-scale European tour in support. With new vocalist I.C.S. Vortex (b. Simen Hestnaes) and guitarist Jens F. Ryland, Borknagar immediately jumped back into the studio to record and release 1998's progressive The Archaic Course without any breaks in between. Unfortunately, Grim died of a sleeping-pill overdose in October 1999; he was replaced by Asgeir Mickelson. For 2000's even more progressive Quintessence album, Vortex took over bass duties, and new keyboardist Lasare signed on.
Borknagar is a progressive black metal band from Bergen, Norway, founded in 1995 by Øystein Garnes Brun. The band's style combines black metal and folk metal with progressive and melodic elements. Borknagar's lyrics often deal with philosophy, paganism, nature, and the cosmos.
Borknagar was founded by a remaining member of the Norwegian death metal band Molested when then-member Øystein Brun became tired of the brutal aspects of the band's music. Øystein formed Borknagar to explore a more melodic outlet of expression, inspired by the burgeoning black metal movement Norway was experiencing and looking to push the boundaries of what was considered "traditional" black metal music. He wrote all of the music and lyrics, and gathered together an all-star group of black metal musicians to play in his band, such as Infernus of Gorgoroth, Grim of Immortal and Gorgoroth, and Ivar Bjørnson of Enslaved. When Garm of Ulver, Head Control System, and Arcturus joined the project, it brought the band immediate attention. The band never even recorded a demo; they simply asked for a record contract on Malicious Records and were granted their request based on the strength of this lineup. Borknagar's music instantly gained fans and received positive press attention.
Borknagar has released ten albums to date. Their self-titled debut album features lyrics solely in Norwegian; all subsequent albums have featured lyrics written in English exclusively (however, The Olden Domain featured an instrumental track titled in Norwegian). Aside from Brun's lyrical contributions, the band has featured lyrics by other members as well: ICS Vortex from Arcturus and ex-Dimmu Borgir, drummer Asgeir Mickelson, keyboardist Lars Nedland and more recently by current singer Vintersorg from Otyg and his eponymous band. Bassist Jan Erik Tiwaz (a.k.a. Tyr) wrote the song 'The View of Everlast'. All of the band's records (excluding the original pressing of the debut album) have been released by the label Century Media. Borknagar has toured with various bands including Emperor, Peccatum, In Flames, Morbid Angel, and Cradle of Filth.
Borknagar released a lighter album, Origin, which is "an acoustic effort based entirely on the epic and progressive aspect of the band", according to Øystein G. Brun's statement on blabbermouth.net.
In late December 2007, the band signed a three-album deal with the Norwegian label Indie Recordings. In March 2008, Asgeir posted an announcement from Øystein on UltimateMetal forums stating that Erik Tiwaz and Jens F. Ryland had again become official members of the band, and that the band were aiming for a January 2009 release. In May 2008, Øystein released another statement announcing Asgeir's departure as the band's drummer, due to "evolving differences in musical ideas and visions [...] The split happens in friendly manner and with mutual respect for the decision that he has made. He will remain a good friend of the band.". A new drummer, the American David Kinkade, who has worked with Arsis and Malevolent Creation has joined the band since.
In April 2009, the band announced that their upcoming album is titled Universal. The album, scheduled for a September release was postponed to a February 2010 release.
In early June 2010, Jan Erik Tiwaz left the bass guitarist position of Borknagar due to "general disagreements", and ICS Vortex replaced him and Vintersorg on the upcoming tour.
Also in June, 2010, the band announced their first tour of South America, with ICS Vortex on vocals.
On August 25, 2010, the band announced that they were forced to cancel the South American tour due to reasons beyond their control.
In January 2011 the deal with Indie Recordings were terminated, and on March 28, 2011 Borknagar signed a new worldwide 3 album deal with Century Media Records.
On April 22, 2011, the band officially announced the return of ICS Vortex on both bass and vocals.
Drummer Dave Kinkade announced on his official Facebook page on October 25, 2011 that he had "mutually parted ways with Borknagar" and that he'll "be focusing 100% on Soulfly now".
On February 22, 2012 it was announced on the Norwegian website Artisan that the new drummer for the band would be Baard Kolstad.