According to the German edition of Metal Hammer magazine, former DIMMU BORGIR bassist/clean vocalist I.C.S. Vortex (real name: Simen Hestnæs) has rejoined BORKNAGAR as the band's new bassist/singer.
Commented I.C.S. Vortex: "I am looking forward to see all you old-school helmet-wearing mofos on the road and to spend some quality time once again with my favorite vikings. Let's make this event 'a really special BM party, come on!!'"
Added BORKNAGAR's Øystein G. Brun: "As stated in several interviews the last couple of months, it's our firm intention to bring the band's live activities up a notch — in respect for all our fans. There is just no way we can dismiss all the requests we get all over the world.
"We are currently working on some really interesting touring plans, but unfortunately our brother in music, Vintersorg, is not able to come along for the moment being due to private commitments. So Vortex being a previous member and always a good friend of the band, it feels great to have him back in the fold in order to execute these plans. Also, I would like to express my deepest admiration for Vintersorg's open-minded and supportive attitude, embracing the idea to pull this off with Vortex in his absence — to make this a genuine and worthy solution for BORKNAGAR."
Vintersorg commented: "This is just what the band need at the moment. I'm not leaving the band or anything like that, but my work situation is holding me back for doing these shows. I know I.C.S Vortex will bring all his personality and skills into this to make it perfect! I wish I could be there."
BORKNAGAR's new album, "Universal", sold around 500 copies in the United States in its first week of release. The CD landed at position No. 116 on the Top New Artist Albums (Heatseekers) chart, which lists the best-selling albums by new and developing artists, defined as those who have never appeared in the Top 100 of The Billboard 200.
"Universal" was released on February 22 in Europe and March 2 in North America through Indie Recordings. The effort was made available in four different formats: regular jewelcase CD, limited digipack (including bonus disc), CD box with extras and gatefold LP with double vinyl.
An e-card for the effort can be accessed at this location.
"Universal" was recorded and mixed at Toproom Studio in Lunner, Norway, with the bandmembers themselves handling the production duties.
Commented BORKNAGAR mainman Øystein G. Brun: "We are extremely satisfied with the result! The album turned out even better than we dared to hope for when starting this journey. There is an attitude, energy and nerve to this record that will appeal to the most primal side of man, yet there is complexity and atmosphere that will challenge the most sophisticated parts of mind. The album contains all the elements that made BORKNAGAR the band we are and we firmly believe that this album will be a huge piece of candy for those who have followed the band through the years. This is by far the most complete album we have done to date — musically and production-wise."
Regarding the album title, Brun said, "'Universal' is the title that shines through and mirrors the essence of the album. 'Universal' is a title that is broad enough and huge enough to project the giant character of this album, both musically and lyrically."