Well, this is pretty impressive. Heljarkviða is the latest EP from old Norse metal outfit Árstíðir Lífsins and even though it may only consist of two tracks, it weighs in at over 40 minutes in duration! Not bad, huh?
As a fan of long epics in this sort of style (Tulimyrsky by Moonsorrow being a particularly good example), I naturally had very high expectations for Heljarkviða, and Árstíðir Lífsins did not let me down. The two songs, which are a perfect pair, are majestic in their delivery and whilst with some long songs it can feel like they’re being dragged out, this definitely isn’t the case here. Every single facet of the band’s sound makes a useful contribution and needless to say, this is an engaging listen as a result.
From the opening ambience of Heljarkviða I: Á helvegi, right through to the closing avant-garde darkness of Heljarkviða II: Helgrindr brotnar, Árstíðir Lífsins maintain your interest with their versatile approach. There’s soft, gentle moments, with a particular highlight coming in the middle of Á helvegi featuring some beautiful strings and acoustic guitars, and then there’s heavier, more in-your-face sections such as the nigh-on frenetic approach taken in an early part of Helgrindr brotnar. Árstíðir Lífsins know when to go all out, and when to take a step back, which is certainly testament to some top-notch songwriting.
Heljarkviða may only be my first insight into Árstíðir Lífsins’ music – but you can bet I’m going to dive right into their back catalogue now. I can only suggest that you do the same.