Arstidir Lifsins – “Vapna Laekjar Eldr”

Arstidir Lifsins – “Vapna Laekjar Eldr” (Van Records)

Possibly one of the most ambitious packages I’ve ever seen, Arstidir Lifsins is a 9 piece German / Icelandic / Norwegian collaboration who play Norse / Pagan / Black metal mixed in with folk sung in old Icelandic! The brainchild of Stefan who studied Medieval Icelandic while in Iceland, no doubt influenced profoundly by its timeless, primordial, volcanic landscape as well as the strong Norse culture, Arstidir Lifsins itself roughly translates to ‘seasons of life’ and is strongly connected to the different seasons. “Vapna Laekjar Eldr” is again deeply rooted in Iceland’s history of the later half of the 10th century AD, continuing the story from the first album “Jötunheima dolgferð” also set in the Westjords (Vestfirðir) and telling the harsh tale of survival and struggle of farmers based on the family sagas of Norwegian and Celtic settlers. Pressed in a special dark red coloured vinyl and presented in a gatefold is an extensive art book with 48 pages, including nine exclusively painted pictures by singer Marsél, English translations of the lyrics and a special chapter that is designed in the way of 14th century Icelandic illuminated manuscripts. If the packaging is superb, then the music is nothing short of epic: centered around a Norse black metal core come Nordic choirs, strong Scandinavian folk melodies, as well as a range of instruments from violins to organs to harps to piano. Dark, melancholic and at times violent, while elsewhere ambient and atmospheric Arstidir Lifsins have accurately captured Iceland’s wild and unforgiving nature, but also its majestic beauty in a superb album whose energy goes beyond music and into a complete cultural immersion!

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