Árstíðir Lífsins - Saga Á Tveim Tungum II: Eigi Fjǫll Né Firðir review



Reviewer:
8.5

24 users:
7.92
Band: Árstíðir Lífsins
Album: Saga Á Tveim Tungum II: Eigi Fjǫll Né Firðir
Release date: May 2020


01. Ek Býð Þik Velkominn
02. Bróðir, Var Þat Þín Hǫnd
03. Sem Járnklær Nætr Dragask Nærri
04. Gamalt Ríki Faðmar Þá Grænu Ok Svǫrtu Hringi Lífs Ok Aldrslita
05. Um Nætr Reika Skepnr
06. Heiftum Skal Mána Kveðja
07. Er Hin Gullna Stjarna Skýjar Slóðar Rennr Rauð
08. Um Nóttu, Mér Dreymir Þursa Þjóðar Sjǫt Brennandi
09. Ek Sá Halr At Hóars Veðri Hǫsvan Serk Hrísgrísnis Bar


A metal viking themed album? That's really new and not done to death. But if it's such a done to death thing, why is it that Árstíðir Lífsins feel so authentic when doing it?

I generally hate reviewing twin albums, or anything that has a number in its name to clearly tie it to another album, especially if the album it is tied to was also recently released. There is a pressure to take it into context. I really considered reviewing both albums, the other one retroactively, but I decided to, instead, talk about both albums here rather than give in to my reservations and just skip the entire thing. I probably should've reviewed Part I back when it came out, but trying to do it now would mean either me half-assing both reviews or just struggling to say different things about both albums. But not only that, I think we are in a much better position now, because both albums are out, and this is really a journey that must be taken through both albums.

Árstíðir lífsins is a band that I've been following more and more lately. First I found out about them because they are Icelandic, and Icelandic black metal was all the rage. However, Árstíðir lífsins didn't take the Deathspell Omega-inspired approach of their peers, most probably because out of all of them they were among the first ones to come out with a full length. Over the course of the three full lengths, two EPs and one split released before the two Saga albums (as well as a split with Carpe Noctem in between the two), the sound they crafted is deeply connected to their Norse roots, more often than not with a very narrative and legendary feel, with old Icelandic lyrics, with both folk and black metal in the mix. Up until the Saga, I liked them, but it was hard really setting them apart from the sea of bands also idolizing the Norse past. But this really feels like their most ambitious and complete work to date.

The more than two hours length aside, Saga á tveim tungum is not really something that I could say suffers from bloat or fillers. Being such an epic (in the literal sense of the word) album, the music feels like it has much more of a purpose than being simply music for music's sake. Even with the language barrier, the music does so much as a vessel for the story telling, being about as evocative as music could possibly be without slipping into ambient territories. The stories about Norwegian king Óláfr Helgi Haraldsson that serve as the basis of this album are something that wouldn't be possible to get from just listening to this album without either prior knowledge or fluency in old Icelandic. However it's quite impossible to listen to this and not feel in any way transported to those shores a millennium ago, and feel all the intrigue, betrayal, glory and turmoil that come along. It might be advisable to look into the saga of Óláfr Helgi Haraldsson to further appreciate the album, but on its own Saga á tveim tungum works perfectly as a moving piece of music.

It's not hard to find a piece of history or lore and use it as a basis for your album, but it's hard to do it justice and to have the music live up to how epic i is, and to capture the same ebb and flow of its storytelling. Árstíðir lífsins as a trio, with all three of them participating in the choir, use said choir-like vocals to often skaldic heights that could rival the likes of Wardruna or Heilung, and it is often due to those that the music is as immersive and evocative as it is. Main vocalist Marsél is the one responsible for most of the narration, so he does all the heavy lifting from this point of view, feeling like our guide throughout the whole saga. The album often switches from moody sections with narration and sparse folk instrumentation to blistering black metal. And I'd be lying if I said that whenever zoning out during the black metal sections I didn't accidentally think that I was listening to old Enslaved instead, which is really the highest praise I could give a viking metal band. This is mostly due to how Marsél's shrieks and Grutle Kjellson's sound alike, but also because I can't tell old Icelandic and Norwegian apart.

So we have a crowning achievement not only in black metal, Scandinavian folk and the melding of the two, but also in how to properly apply storytelling in music. Most metal bands wish they could craft two hour long albums that feel this immersive.




 



Written on 19.06.2020 by My opinion is objective, sorry if you don't agree, but you're wrong.


Comments

Comments: 8   Visited by: 85 users
19.06.2020 - 16:44
Bad English
Tage Westerlund
Well only difference between few bands and this is that singer studied old languages in university in Munster and he masters, thats how a german guy can sing in Icelandic. I rip my ears listen that language and eyes read it, but they can easel understand us , that why such saga texts and thinks makes sense more as others in some way and this is different, not speedy energy, its doomy slowness in some way here even its pure BM. Good band same as his other band Helrunar. I like boat ones, somehow unique BM IMO
----
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Stormtroopers of Death - ''Speak English or Die''

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19.06.2020 - 16:57
RaduP
CertifiedHipster
Written by Bad English on 19.06.2020 at 16:44

Well only difference between few bands and this is that singer studied old languages in university in Munster and he masters, thats how a german guy can sing in Icelandic. I rip my ears listen that language and eyes read it, but they can easel understand us , that why such saga texts and thinks makes sense more as others in some way and this is different, not speedy energy, its doomy slowness in some way here even its pure BM. Good band same as his other band Helrunar. I like boat ones, somehow unique BM IMO

Helrunar is another band that I should really get more into. I didn't know they had this connection, all I knew was that they released a split together.
----
- I've dreamt of that for years.
- Dying?
- Running.




2020 goodies
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19.06.2020 - 17:04
Apothecary
PsyCHEdelic
Funny enough I was actually browsing the new releases on the Van Bandcamp last night and stumbled across this. It definitely looked interesting and people seemed to be giving it good feedback. The Viking theme is overdone as hell but seeing your nice score for this album definitely makes me more curious to check it out now.
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Go tell that long tongue liar
Go and tell that midnight rider
Tell the rambler, the gambler, the back biter
You tell em that God's gonna cut em down
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19.06.2020 - 17:06
RaduP
CertifiedHipster
Written by Apothecary on 19.06.2020 at 17:04

Funny enough I was actually browsing the new releases on the Van Bandcamp last night and stumbled across this. It definitely looked interesting and people seemed to be giving it good feedback. The Viking theme is overdone as hell but seeing your nice score for this album definitely makes me more curious to check it out now.

The viking theme is overdone because most people half ass it. It takes someone with real dedication and passion to make something great out of it with the oversaturation the thousands of viking metal bands have created.
----
- I've dreamt of that for years.
- Dying?
- Running.




2020 goodies
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19.06.2020 - 17:34
Bad English
Tage Westerlund
Written by RaduP on 19.06.2020 at 16:57

Written by Bad English on 19.06.2020 at 16:44

Well only difference between few bands and this is that singer studied old languages in university in Munster and he masters, thats how a german guy can sing in Icelandic. I rip my ears listen that language and eyes read it, but they can easel understand us , that why such saga texts and thinks makes sense more as others in some way and this is different, not speedy energy, its doomy slowness in some way here even its pure BM. Good band same as his other band Helrunar. I like boat ones, somehow unique BM IMO

Helrunar is another band that I should really get more into. I didn't know they had this connection, all I knew was that they released a split together.

Check out line up, same, but helrunar is more ABM, bm as we know.
Imagine a german guy sings in old romania, its same, sing in old n harf to learn language. I am impressed.
----
Life is to short for LOVE, there is many great things to do online !!!

Stormtroopers of Death - ''Speak English or Die''

I better die, because I never will learn speek english, so I choose dieing
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19.06.2020 - 19:41
nikarg
Mod
Written by RaduP on 19.06.2020 at 17:06

The viking theme is overdone because most people half ass it. It takes someone with real dedication and passion to make something great out of it with the oversaturation the thousands of viking metal bands have created.

So true. Haven't listened to this one yet, but will do soon.
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19.06.2020 - 19:59
roeder
I wouldn't actually call the band Icelandic, it's more of an international collaboration. Two of the guys are Germans, and only Árni is Icelandic (he is also a member of Carpe Noctem btw).
Anyways good review and I'm really happy this band is getting more exposure. It is obvious that they have a genuine interest in old Norse culture, and they are not using this only as a gimmick, unlike many other bands.
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19.06.2020 - 20:04
Bad English
Tage Westerlund
Written by nikarg on 19.06.2020 at 19:41

Written by RaduP on 19.06.2020 at 17:06

The viking theme is overdone because most people half ass it. It takes someone with real dedication and passion to make something great out of it with the oversaturation the thousands of viking metal bands have created.

So true. Haven't listened to this one yet, but will do soon.


yes specially non viking countries, but this nailed it a lot are true viking as some so called viking bands as amon amarth ever will be, they have show, this band has beliefs.
Thats why I love kawir so much, sing about Hades and bastard 3 head dog from hell if you're from Hellenic shores.
----
Life is to short for LOVE, there is many great things to do online !!!

Stormtroopers of Death - ''Speak English or Die''

I better die, because I never will learn speek english, so I choose dieing
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