Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Arstidir Lifsins : "Aldafoor Ok Munka Drottinn"

This trio features members of Helrunar and Carpe Noctem, so you know they are going to get at least the  viking parts right. It starts off with a twelve minute epic the first three minutes build up to the metal being introduced. Largely there is a chorus of baritones bellowing out the vocals, but these give way to black metal snarls. The first and second song run into one another like this is a Wagnerian opera. Like opera the magnitude of the scenes they are creating here is impressive, but there is not a lot to really engage you into the songs. The album sounds great. Every thing is well played. the most original...no.

While at best this band might be referred to as blackened folk metal, the third song has some old school black metal nastiness to it. The bass playing is is impressive on it as it raises to an audible level most black metal bass players stay submerged beneath. Here the theatrics which take center stage rather than trying to recreate any pagan folk elements are dynamically right on time and work with the song rather than making it feel overblown. The fourth song is more of a dirge paced hymn. The drums build it up into a blasting nasty blast beat. It slows into a pretty powerful pound.

Epic gets over used, however it applies here as these songs are arranged with orchestral precision. At times you will think now this is how the soundtrack to the Hobbit should have sounded like." Not all of the low vocal chants work with equal success, in fact as the album progress it sometimes makes the song too atmospheric as there is noting to grasp onto until the drums come in in certain passages, though when the drums drop in the do so with quite a crunch. Though some of the spoken word sections make some of the atmospherics almost seem excessive it makes for a crazy dynamic shift when it goes into one of the most frenzied blast beat you will hear on any black metal album. Sometimes these more folk sections are handled in a more Negura Bunget manner, but they are more string based giving it a more symphonic metal feel. They come across more like interludes than being connected to the songs.  When the operatic baritones are thrown into the albums more metal moments it does give the album more personality than the two dozen black metal albums sitting in my in-box. There are times when the harsh vocals sound like they are being traded off between two different microphones, and this effects gives a fresh take on it. Which is what that style of vocalizing is beginning to need as they average harsh vocal performance is beginning to lose it's edge so we are becoming desensitized to it.

This album has a lot going on and the fact it all comes through really clearly is a testament to the skill it was mixed with. This album has a very honest and reverent feel to it, there is not the sense that these guys are just running around LARPing as vikings. These guys are capable musicians, the drummer stands out and can deliver some first class double bass on command. Metal is supposed to be big and over the top, so bands like Manowar and Bathory should be proud of what they helped bring about. The closing song sets a powerful chug against the chorus of chanting baritones. Midway into the song there is a cool break, that gives it the dynamic edge the songs needs after all bombast doesn't seem as bombastic with something to contrast it to. Just in time for the new season of Game of Thrones, you could smoke a bowl, mute the television and leave this playing and get a whole new perspective on the show. I'll give it an 8.5 as it drifts into the background and doesn't hook me in, but it is an impressive piece of work and if you are a fan of viking metal one of the best releases from that sub-genre to come out this year.

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