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Árstíðir Lífsins – Saga Á Tveim Tungum II: Eigi Fjǫll Né Firðir

Árstíðir Lífsins
Saga Á Tveim Tungum II: Eigi Fjǫll Né Firðir
by Cherie Wong at 24 June 2020, 9:31 AM

On May 22, 2020, ÁRSTÍÐIR LÍFSINS released “Saga Á Tveim Tungum II: Eigi Fjǫll Né Firðir,” which I will call “Saga II” for the rest of this review. ÁRSTÍÐIR LÍFSINS is a pagan black metal band with members from Iceland and Germany. “Saga II” is their fifth full-length release and the follow-up to their 2019 full-length release “Saga Á Tveim Tungum I: Vápn Ok Viðr.” “Saga I” and “Saga II” tell the story of the Norwegian king and saint, Óláfr Haraldsson, based on Skaldic and Eddic poetry.

The vocals, chanting, and narration of “Saga II” are entirely in Old Icelandic. Spoken narration is heavily used, as the album tells a story. The switches between growling, narration, and chanting are perfectly complemented by changes in the pace and tone brought on by the guitars and drums. String instruments and sound effects are used on each track to add a touch of melody and atmosphere.

The first two tracks are introductory tracks. “Ek Býð Þik Velkominn” sets up the atmosphere of the album, with an acoustic folk melody, a tinkling creek, and a solemn voiceover. A viola completes the old-world soundscape. In contrast, “Bróðir, Var Þat Þín Hǫnd” is mostly narration, backed by some quiet string instrumentation and the indistinct rush of wind and sea.

With the third track, “Sem Járnklær Nætr Dragask Nærri,” we start getting into the meat of the album. Black metal riffs and blast beats serve as a darkly swirling background to the multiple growling and screaming vocalists and narration. When the vocals switch to chanting, the music slows noticeably, but makes up for the lack of speed with an increase in intensity.

The sorrowful viola melody the backs the narration on “Um Nætr Reika Skepnr” is definitely worthy of a mention. Even though I may not understand the words, I can understand the anguish in the tone. The next track, “Heiftum Skal Mána Kveðja,” struck me from the first time I listened to the album, and with subsequent listens, I appreciate it more and more. The choir of chanting builds in intensity throughout the duration of the track, captivating and trance inducing.

Um Nóttu, Mér Dreymir Þursa Þjóðar Sjǫt Brennandi” is the last narration track. Though lengthy, the unsettling voiceover, snarling, and eerie background sound effects elevate it above mere talk. It leads to the almost eighteen-minute long epic closer “Ek Sá Halr At Hóars Veðri Hǫsvan Serk Hrísgrísnis Bar.” The time barely registers as the track flows seamlessly between different musical ideas; at times cold, fast, and harsh, and at times, melodic and hypnotizing. The ending narration of the latter half of the song is played out by a viola and acoustic guitar.

Overall, I highly recommend this album to pagan black metal fans that appreciate their bleak and harsh black metal laced with acoustic string instrument melodies and plenty of storytelling. Through great musicianship and songwriting, ÁRSTÍÐIR LÍFSINS manages to tell their beautiful story.

Songwriting: 8
Musicianship: 7
Memorability: 7
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Ek Býð Þik Velkominn
2. Bróðir, Var Þat Þín Hǫnd
3. Sem Járnklær Nætr Dragask Nærri
4. Gamalt Ríki Faðmar Þá Grænu Ok Svǫrtu Hringi Lífs Ok Aldrslita
5. Um Nætr Reika Skepnr
6. Heiftum Skal Mána Kveðja
7. Er Hin Gullna Stjarna Skýjar Slóðar Rennr Rauð
8. Um Nóttu, Mér Dreymir Þursa Þjóðar Sjǫt Brennandi
9. Ek Sá Halr At Hóars Veðri Hǫsvan Serk Hrísgrísnis Bar
Lineup:
Stefán – Guitars, Bass, Vocals, Choirs
Árni – Drums, String Instruments, Effects, Vocals, Choirs
Marsél – Storyteller, Vocals, Choirs
Record Label: Ván Records
     


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Edited 16 October 2021
 

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