Borknagar(Malicious - 1996)
At first I was disappointed. I was expecting a heavier version of Arcturus seeing that this is another symphonic style black metal 'supergroup'. The music is very dense and harsh but not at all complex. My biggest problem with this was that the music didn't seem to go anywhere a lot of the time. Some sections sound great but I kept waiting for it to develop and build up to something but it only stayed in the same place or shifted abruptly to something else. It grew on me after a few listens though. I guess this is a songwriter that takes a while to get in tune with. Only 5 real songs and the other 5 are soft instrumental interludes - this makes the dynamics interesting. Plenty of keyboards here but they are much lower in the mix and no way as prominent as with Arcturus. Vocals are harsh black metal rasps most of the time but they also use Garm's monk-style solemn "ahhhhh" voice and in my opinion they use it badly in this case. I must say this has grown on me very well and is recommended. The first song is simply superb.
The Olden Domain(Century Media - 1997)
This one took me even longer to get used to. The first 5 listens I simply hated it but I kept coming back to try and figure it out. Maybe it's the messy songwriting, or maybe the fact that the songs didn't take me anywhere. I can hear what the songwriter is trying to do but it just didn't seem to do it. It sounds like he has put much thought into it yet has lost the 'music'. Compared to the previous album, this one is much less harsh and more gothic. The vocals are clean half of the time in the style of Arcturus' latest one, but in this case they could have done without it at times. Guitars are much softer as well and the drums do most of the hard-hitting work. Some brilliant moments here and there, but even after I have grown accustomed to it, this album is a little on the weak side compositionally. It's not something to avoid though, I would put it on my shopping list but at the bottom. It has quite a few redeeming songs and qualities so by all means check it out if it sounds like your thing.