Árstíðir lífsins means "The Seasons of Life" in Icelandic.
And Árstíðir lífsins are also an interesting band. The Icelandic group blend traditional black metal with epic power metal elements, folk music and even spoken word. Their latest album is “Aldafǫðr ok munka dróttin” which is my first experience with the band. The result is that while it isn’t an easy listen, I prefer music that challenges the listener and “Aldafǫðr ok munka dróttin” does that and thensome.
Plus, it is a massive double album so listening to it is also a daunting task!
template for “Aldafǫðr ok munka dróttin” is black metal, it veers regularly and often from it. It starts orchestral with strings and acoustic guitars on “Kastar heljar brenna fjarri ofan Ǫnundarfirðinum” before it dives into death vocals and electric guitars. The songs often go from the folk, acoustic side to the loud, bombastic metal side and this contrast gives the songs their power, keeping the listeners attention in the process.
The second disc has songs,
for example, like “Tími er kominn at kveða fyrir þér” and “Norðsæta gætis, herforingja Ormsins langa” both use a spoken word over the music, but most songs do it. The difference here is that it never feels like dialogue but rather a lyrical reading of sorts. The rest of the vocals range from the “typical” black metal wretch to a deep, almost chant-like vocal. The songs are all massive and quite dramatic sounding as a result.
Unfortunately, I don’t speak Icelandic but between Sólstafir and Árstíðir lífsins, I wish I did. The lyrics deal with Old Norse literature and history. Understanding the lyrics would definitely add a dimension to the album that I am lacking. But like the work of many bands I listen to, understanding the lyrics isn’t that important. The sound of the vocal and the style of music behind the vocal can convey as much emotion and meaning regardless of the language. Music is indeed a universal language and “Aldafǫðr ok munka dróttin” is an incredible, majestic opus that is almost more art than music.