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Árstíðir Lífsins: Aldafoðr Ok Munka Dróttinn

Pagan black metallers find themselves in the element

It would be easy to pigeonhole this lot as middle-era Bathory or Eld-era Enslaved updated for the post-Wardruna audience, and in truth there are significant touches of all the above about Árstíðir Lífsins, with a dose of Swedish black metal (Dissection and Marduk are both audible in the riffage) for good measure.

And while most of the individual sonic components of Aldafoðr Ok Munka Dróttinn are not, on the surface, hugely revolutionary (although they are obviously very well done), there is a quality that gives it a strong personality of its own.

For one, this is almost as epic as a Wagnerian opera cycle (both in reach of emotion and sheer length), and far more so than any of the above inspirations suggests. For a second, there’s a patient, earthy strength that smacks of black basalt rocks being pounded by green, briny waves, or of glaciers carving granite mountains into deep valleys.

It implies motion and change, but patiently and with implacable power. Plus it’s just about varied enough to get away (by the skin of its teeth) with the 80-plus minute running time./o:p