Árstíðir Lífsins / Helrunar: Fragments. A Mythological Excavation

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Árstíðir Lífsins / Helrunar: Fragments. A Mythological Excavation
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Árstíðir Lífsins / Helrunar: Framents. A Mythological Excavation
Black Metal, Folk Metal, Pagan Black Metal
Ván Records
July 5th, 2013
Release length: 34:44
Árstíðir Lífsins:
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Helrunar:
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Ván Records presents, Fragments – A Mythological Excavation, a split album that brings together the relatively newer Black and Folk Metal group Árstíðir Lífsins, a ten member band with members from Iceland, Germany and Norway, as well as Pagan Black Metal group, Helrunar. Both groups present some long and considered “epic” compositions, leaving only one song each. With strong feedback on both acts previous efforts, fans can only sit and salivate over this pairing. But, do these two deliver, or is this a two song EP that winds up catering more to filler than solid song writing?

Árstíðir Lífsins starts things off with “Vindsvalarmal,” which opens with a truly beautiful classical piece with violins against bass notes from the guitar or keyboard, not sure which exactly, and roaring winds and rumbling of a turbulent coast. Narration and a softer musical start build to a faster Black Metal performance with nasal shouts and some deeper gutturals. This shift between sombre to melancholic yet aggressive happens throughout the song in a well execute story telling manner. The guitars are a bit on the blunt side, which is a shame as a sharper presence would definitely give the song more bite, though the drums are solid and fit the environment quite well. Around the twelve minute mark, there is an extensive marching rhythm with deeper vocal harmonizations thrown in, leading to a superb conclusion to the earlier bouts of conflict that the depressing piano and narration piece about fifteen minutes in capitalizes on perfectly, bringing the performance back to the violins, wind, and rain that started this rather epic journey.

As if the next chapter of “Vindsvalarmal,” Helrunar ushers in “Wein Fur Polyphem” in a similar manner. Gentle waves crash against the shore, and some female harmonizations are lost in the distance, shifting to male chanting. Three and a half minutes in, the sharper, louder guitars storm in with fury, accompanied by tight drumming that ends up a bit of a higher pitch still suiting to the distortion used. Things slow down about half way through, and while the atmosphere is still a bit ominous, the music is really catchy with dismal riffs and a drum beat you’ll instinctively bob your head along to until the pace slows to its creeping climax, returning once again to the water and female harmonizations.

Fragments. A Mythological Excavation collects two really strong voices in the underground Black Metal community into on extensive two track split release. Chances are you’ve heard Helrunar before, and your expectations on this release are definitely met. But the most inspiring is “Vindsvalarmal” by Árstíðir Lífsins, which is easily the most impressive of the two. If burdening atmospheres and solid performances intrigue you, then you need to pick this recording up as soon as possible.

Árstíðir Lífsins:
01. Vindsvalarmal – 19:42

Helrunar:
02. Wein Fur Polyphem – 15:02

Initial Pressing Score: 9.5/10

Árstíðir Lífsins (band)
Árstíðir Lífsins

Helrunar (band)
Helrunar

Digital review copy of this release provided by Ván Records.