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Helrunar/Árstíðir Lífsins: Fragments: A Mythological Excavation

Far-reaching black metallers combine forces to epic effect

Germany’s Helrunar have been at the forefront of the pagan black metal subgenre for many a year. As they’re yet to follow up 2011’s Sól with a new full length, they’ve instead teamed up with Iceland’s (by way of Germany and Norway) wonderfully monikered Árstíðir Lífsins for this majestic split, which delves into Homer’s Odyssey and Nordic mythology.

Helrunar’s track, Wein Für Polyphem, takes in strains of beautiful acoustic guitar and deep chants before firing into life with layers of roared vocals and a pace that dips and sways in waves of swelling motion. All too soon their 15 minutes come to a gorgeous, choral-led close and then it’s the turn of Árstíðir Lífsins and their 20-minute ode to the ancient ones with Vindsvalarmál.

The spoken-word section that leads into the dual high pitched screamed/abyssal vocals lends Árstíðir Lífsins the deeply historic atmosphere that they so magically inhabit, and the track strives for a stately and epic feel with an easy, unforced grace. Fragments: A Mythological Excavation is truly magnificent.