The Pitch: German/Icelandic blackened folk metallers Árstíðir lífsins (Seasons of Life) unveil their massive 4th album via Ván Records. FFO: Enslaved, Batushka, Moonsorrow
What I Like: Vápn ok viðr, at already an hour and ten minutes in length, is but the first half of a two-part series to be concluded later in the year with Eigi fjǫll né firðir. As such, you'd be right in having some pretty epic expectations in terms of its intended gravity. The concept is that of infamous Norwegian king Óláfr helgi Haraldsson in the early eleventh century; an aesthetic heavily supported by the album's intoxicatingly folky melodies, strings, acoustic guitars, and deep Icelandic chanting. Mixed with some very Enslaved-sounding black metal passages, it's a journey well worth taking. I'll admit that I felt a bit overwhelmed when surveying the time commitment involved in this undertaking (there are three 10+ minute tracks), but I simply could not say no after sampling the first few minutes. It's a powerfully moving album that grips you from the very beginning and never lets go. By the mournful closing violins of "Haldi oss frá eldi, eilífr skapa deilir," it will seep into your very marrow.
Critiques: It does feel a bit long at times, especailly in the doomier moments, but damned if the atmosphere doesn't keep you engaged. I'm pleasantly surprised.
The Verdict: Vápn ok viðr is an expansive album that is truly remarkable in its accomplishments. Many bands set out to craft such stunning monuments of epic grandeur, but very few succeed. Count me as a new fan of Árstíðir lífsins, a band that continues the trend of incredible Icelandic black metal. I'm looking forward to hearing how the story ends.
Flight's Fav's: Fornjóts synir..., Líf á milli hveinandi bloðkerta, Vandar jǫtunn reisti fiska upp af vǫtnum
- Review by FlightOfIcarus
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