Árstíðir Lífsins – Aldafǫðr Ok Munka Dróttinn - Digipak 2-CD
Aldafǫðr ok munka dróttin was crafted as an ode to the nomadic spirit of the Scandinavian people, whom history has dubbed vikings. As such it reflects the patience and bravery that their chosen lifestyle must have required. Sailing the stormy North Sea to the rocky, fog enshrouded coasts of the future United Kingdom and the Baltic region must have taken a high degree of reckless abandon. And yet, the men who made these forays could patiently smelt iron into some of the day's strongest blades. They were as intelligent and crafty as they were violent and brutal. This is all reflected in the music of Aldafǫðr ok munka dróttinn. The songs flow like waves past the prow of a ship, coming on with spoken word and elements of folk, viola, and cello, before the wind comes up, the storm hits, and we are hearing some fairly menacing strains of black metal.
The band uses a host of vocal techniques, from robust baritones of clean sung, almost mantra-like recitations, to scything black metal screams. Each song is a leg on the same journey from hardship to invasion, and thus cannot truly be completed in pieces. This record demands to be listened to from beginning to end, requiring full immersion to truly appreciate its craft. Despite the generous helping of blasts and black metal fury, the music exudes a very trance-like, meditative feeling throughout its long and winding compositions. In no way boring, it simply pulls the listener in and keeps him/her there.
The first song, 'Kastar heljar brenna fjarri ofan Ǫnundarfirðinum,' is a great highlight and a wonderful example of what Árstíðir lífsins is all about. The somber cello over top the sound of the blowing gale, combined with the solemn exhortation of the vocals, gives way to the crackling of fire and strains of acoustic guitar. The electric guitar and booming drums come in next, and the voices are raised once again in a stunning chorus . . . this is powerful stuff, the very definition of that over-used term 'epic,' and as the tension builds up, the death metal vocals of band mastermind Stefán come in. As crashing waves ebb and flow, the music grows once more calm before truly storming off in a hail of blast beats and black metal fury equivalent to something you might hear from Deathspell Omega. Before long the folk elements return, blended into the music with the utmost care and compositional mastery. Thus Aldafǫðr ok munka dróttinn succeeds in what it sets out to do. For the serious fan of both pagan/folk, black metal, and above all accurate history, this album and this band are not to be missed.