About a year ago the German/Icelandic black metal outfit Árstíðir Lífsins retraced one of the most ancient epic tales of bravery: ‘Saga á tveim tungum I: Vápn ok viðr‘, which was based on the heroic chronicles of the Norwegian king Óláfr Haraldsson. Árstíðir Lífsins returns once again to take you on a long journey to the cold misty lands of Scandinavia. ‘Saga á tveim tungum II: Eigi fjǫll né firðir‘ is the fifth album that interweaves with the thrilling tales of the Northmen who stood by their saint. But more importantly, the latest craft narrates the epic tales of Olaf, the king who was depicted as the symbol of pride in Norway. From the opening strings of the first track ‘Ek býð þik velkominn‘ Árstíðir Lífsins continue to convey the art of the folklore instruments like violin and cello. And much like these dramatic instruments the choirs and the solemn spoken words are one of the key elements of this unique band. Throughout this prolonged album the band show their deep reverence of the Old Icelandic language.
There aren’t many bands in our modern times who have brought such profound and unprecedented levels to their music, which gives Árstíðir Lífsins quite an advantage. The album actually begins to resonate loudly as the third track ‘Sem járnklær nætr dragask nærri‘ burst with the buzz swinging guitars and traditional black metal riffs. The high pitched growls are followed by the tremolo pickings and violent eruption of the blast beats. Árstíðir Lífsins musical style is quite uncommon the band has a dramatic method of infusing the climatic soundscapes such as storms and thunder into the song composition. The male choirs are often used in between the songs to bring a sense of majesty and power. And for this reason, ‘Saga á tveim tungum II: Eigi fjǫll né firðir‘ and the predecessor both feel like an epic soundtrack inspired by the pagan qualities of black metal.
‘Gamalt ríki faðmar þá grænu ok svǫrtu hringi lífs ok aldrslita‘ is empowered by a barrage of heavy guitar riffs. The latest output edges towards the furious style of Scandinavian black metal. Árstíðir Lífsins offer the eloquent splendor while the songs are imbued with fundamental element of tremolo picking. There is an overwhelming aura of majesty poised within the songs’ contents that redefines the splendid art of their music. For instance, the lush soundscapes of the cello, strings, and violin are merged to make songs captivating. These elements of grandeur are instantly added to provide mesmerizing Nordic melodies. Song texture is filled with harmonious tones of tremolo picking. While the approach to black metal is clearly balanced between the crushing mid-tempo and the swift blast beats.
Guitar riffs are rich and beautifully layered and they contrast with the hammering tone of the percussion. ‘Heiftum skal mána kveðja‘ is layered with strings and heavy sharp guitar riffs. Árstíðir Lífsins provide many cinematic moments and create majestic soundscapes. The sudden gushes of raw guitars and the embedded tremolos are structured to create a chilling atmospheric aura. Melodies blend quite well and uplifting solos are shrewdly employed. From then on the song takes an epic course where the band provides a spellbinding cinematic experience. ‘Saga á tveim tungum II: Eigi fjǫll né firðir‘ is structured on many compositions, the mid-tempo parts of which are combined with luxurious strings and chorals.
The violin adds a gentle touch to the seventh track ‘Er hin gullna stjarna skýjar slóðar rennr rauð‘. The stylistic method ranges from dense guitar riffs to smooth atmospheric soundscapes. High vocal pitches are wonderfully attained and they add a darker feel. Árstíðir Lífsins’ ability to twist the tempos to fast-paced sections demonstrates their sophistication. As a consequence the latest effort is overtly mixed among the shattering drum performance and Nordic melodies. Album closer ‘Ek sá halr at Hóars veðri hǫsvan serk Hrísgrísnis‘ spans over seventeen minutes and is vastly more complex than the previous ones.
The result is a gripping piece of pagan black metal. On this track the trio take their abilities to an extraordinary level. The powerful surges of the abrasive black metal riffs twine with the thundering blast beats. In these passing moments, the pace becomes incredibly frantic, however the ritualistic fragmentation of the spoken words and the majestic choral are still firmly present. Árstíðir Lífsins have honed their craft into a catchy and atmospheric achievement. ‘Saga á tveim tungum II: Eigi fjǫll né firðir‘ is full of sophisticated qualities which embody the art of Scandinavian black metal.
Release Date: 22nd May, 2020
Label: Van Records
- Ek býð þik velkominn
- Bróðir, var þat þín hǫnd
- Sem járnklær nætr dragask nærri
- Gamalt ríki faðmar þá grænu ok svǫrtu hringi lífs ok aldrslita
- Um nætr reika skepnr
- Heiftum skal mána kveðja
- Er hin gullna stjarna skýjar slóðar rennr rauð
- Um nóttu, mér dreymir þursa þjóðar sjǫt brennandi
- Ek sá halr at Hóars veðri hǫsvan serk Hrísgrísnis bar