Archive for pagan black metal

Árstíðir lífsins – Aldafǫðr ok munka dróttinn

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on 22nd February 2015 by izaforestspirit

Árstíðir lífsins
Aldafǫðr ok munka dróttinn
Released 11th December 2014
Pagan Black Metal
Released via Ván Records

‘Aldafǫðr ok munka dróttinn’ is the third album from the Icelandic pagan black metal band Árstíðir lífsins whose name translates as “The Seasons of Life” in English.

The opening track ‘Kastar heljar brenna fjarri ofan Ǫnundarfirðinum‘ features a long, ambient style intro enhanced by narration, Icelandic chanting and the melancholic sounds of what appears to be either a violin or a cello. It’s not until well into the second minute of the song that the guitars finally enter the fold followed by the pounding drums and black metal screams. Despite this, the melodic ambient and folk-style elements remain an integral part of the Árstíðir lífsins’s unique sound.

This pretty much sets the tone for the rest of the album. All the lyrics are in the band’s native Icelandic, and the songs are long and complex just like any good saga should be. The storytelling narrative reminds me of Wardruna; yet unlike their Norwegian brethren these guys combine this with black metal. Their music maintains a very delicate balance between the two styles; the beautiful and melodic Icelandic folk tunes and the harshness of black metal. The structure varies depending on the song, for example ‘Þeir heilags dóms hirðar‘ actually starts with the harsh black metal guitars before a pause for some narration accompanied by the sombre sounds of the cello.

Each track sounds like it’s a story. The black metal guitar riffs and screams mimic the sounds of a battle or the start of a voyage while Mársel’s deep, melodic vocals and the cello act as a reflection on the aftermath and the long journey home. One noteworthy track is ‘Tími er kominn at kveða fyrir þér‘ which features more narrative along with Icelandic chanting, and the beautiful yet sombre sound of the violin. This is also the only song that completely omits the black metal elements and puts an emphasis on to the folk style. Once again the use of their native tongue works to their advantage as it fits the music perfectly. The rest of the album marks a return to black metal, though the folk elements are still present along with the narration.

Overall this album has been an absolute pleasure to review. Árstíðir lífsins is not the first pagan black metal band that has caught my attention but they are definitely one of the most unique within the scene.


Iza Raittila

Kampfar – Djevelmakt

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on 4th May 2014 by izaforestspirit

Released 27th 2014
Pagan Black Metal
Released via Indie Recordings

‘Djevelmakt’ is the new album from the Norwegian pagan black metal band Kampfar. It is the long- awaited follow up to their 2011 release ‘Mare’. This year also marks the 20th anniversary of the formation of the band.

After a haunting and atmospheric piano intro, the opening track Mylder paves a path of nightmarish visions enhanced by the anguishing cries of “Helvete!!” piercing their way through the listener’s eardrums. The aforementioned cries of “Helvete” tend to linger in your head long after the song has finished. Amidst the chaos an eerie, flute-like synth creates an illusion of tranquility and filters through all the way to the end of the song. Blod, Eder og Galle has a faster pace and a much more aggressive tone with the chorus sounding more like a collection of battle cries and shrieks. Even the guitar riffs have a harsh, abrasive feel to them.

Another track which caught my attention is the ultra creepy Swarm Norvegicus which in many ways feels like a continuation of ‘Mare’ both in terms of lyrical themes and overall atmosphere. It features a deceptively slow start; the orchestrated keyboard intro is quickly followed by a monotone doom metal -like guitar riff followed by singer Dolk’s shrieks of gloom and despair. Even when the guitars pick up the pace, switching to a more “rocking” style, the haunting shrieks persist maintaining the creepy atmosphere of the song. Then there’s De Dødes Fane which shows some variation in the traditional Kampfar sound, with the singer experimenting other vocal styles in addition to his usual shrieks and screams. It’s also one of the few tracks where the synth sound enters the spotlight and carries on throughout the song rather than being just a hint of melody in an intro.

Finally album finishes with Our hounds, our legion. It starts off with yet another deceptively slow intro with an acoustic guitar, which slowly gives in to more harsh guitar riffage and cries of doom. In some way it feels like part 2 of Swarm Norvegicus due to the numerous similarities between the two tracks such as a reference to the moon and the former announcing the apocalypse whilst the latter marking the beginning of a new era with legions “of nightcrawlers” taking over. It features the same harrowing atmosphere as its predecessors which makes it a suitable conclusion to this chapter in Kampfar’s history.

Overall, ‘Djevelmakt’ is a logical successor of ‘Mare’ in the sense that it basically picks up from where previous album left off. For once you can actually judge album by its cover-art, for this Kampfar devil is every bit as nightmarish and surreal as the painting you see before you.


Iza Raittila