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Árstíðir Lífsins - Aldafoðr Ok Munka Dróttinn

Árstíðir Lífsins
Aldafoðr Ok Munka Dróttinn
by JF "Thrashing Assault" Briard at 08 April 2015, 6:21 PM

Pagan black metal is basically a fusion between black metal and folk metal in equal parts. The vocals frequently switches between monk-like clean group singing (usually low pitched) and the shrieking and harsh vocals from the black metal scene, creating two very distinct sounds. The instrumental parts are composed of either the usual black metal guitars riffs (but a bit less harsh sounding) and also classic guitar parts, mixed with folkloric instruments. ÁRSTÍÐIR LÍFSINS, which means "The Seasons of Life" in Icelandic, has lyrical themes mostly about Old Norse Literature and History.

"Tími er kominn at kveða fyrir þér" starts the album with some strings, inspiring a very melancholic feeling, then some sort of ceremony with a choir of men chanting. As we can already see from the first track, there is a very complex structure all around, with frequent classical guitar interludes between the more guttural and typical black metal parts. Classical guitar accompany a spoken monologue at the beginning of "Knǫrr siglandi birtisk á löngu bláu yfirborði", with the finale being also melodic. "Þeir heilags dóms hirðar" is the longest song on the album; even at 13:42 minutes, it remains quite varied thorough, which is always quite the feat. "Úlfs veðrit er ið CMXCIX" is equally elegant, somber and brutal. "Máni, bróðir Sólar ok Mundilfara" is the shortest track and somewhat a transition to the second disk, being mostly calmer.

"Tími er kominn at kveða fyrir þér" seems like a tragic story being chanted by comrades in arms. "Norðsæta gætis, herforingja Ormsins lang" has more black metal elements than the mostly calm track before it, but is still folk-ish. "Bituls skokra benvargs hreggjar á sér stað" has a nice melodic finale, while "Sem lengsk vánar lopts ljósgimu hvarfs dregr nærri" slowly build the momentum,with the choir (especially) and the monologue being very dominant all the way until the end.

This album contains imaginative and melodic instrumentalization, with a strong atmosphere of solitude and hopelessness, permeating everything with it's melancholy and deep complexity. It's ambitious and grand in scope, resulting in a very good entry for the sub-genre.

4 Star Rating

Disc 1
1. Kastar heljar brenna fjarri ofan Ǫnundarfirðinum
2. Knǫrr siglandi birtisk á löngu bláu yfirborði
3. Þeir heilags dóms hirðar
4. Úlfs veðrit er ið CMXCIX
5. Máni, bróðir Sólar ok Mundilfara

Disc 2
1. Tími er kominn at kveða fyrir þér
2. Norðsæta gætis, herforingja Ormsins langa
3. Bituls skokra benvargs hreggjar á sér stað
4. Sem lengsk vánar lopts ljósgimu hvarfs dregr nærri
Stefán - Guitars, Bass, Vocals, Choirs
Árni - Drums, Viola, Cello, Vocals, Choirs
Marsél - Vocals, Choirs, Storyteller
Record Label: Ván Records


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Edited 03 December 2022

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