Alright, so, there’s pagan black metal, there’s folk metal, and then somewhere in between you get Árstíðir lífsins. With a name that translates to “seasons of life”, the personality behind this band is immediately apparent. Aldafǫðr ok munka dróttinn is the German/Icelandic trio’s third full length release since their inception in 2008. Released last December internationally, it’s only just making its rounds in North America, so this review may be considered somewhat late. But the fact is, it’s good enough to warrant a full write-up now.
The black metal scene in the United Kingdom has been bursting with winners lately, with bands like Winterfylleth, Saor and Fen all putting out exceptionally melodic, dark albums over the past twelve months. Those bands and other UK brethren absolutely know how to use melody to brighten up their work without destroying its dark undercurrent. They don’t sit back and play the classic black metal of Scandinavia or Eastern Europe. Instead, the UK scene has taken black metal, specifically pagan black metal, to their firmly-held throne room of melody. And on their debut LP, Heimweh, London quartet Crom Dubh certainly don’t let their genre-mates, countrymen, or listeners down on this front.
As everyone knows by now, I’ve more or less laid claim to all new releases hailing from Deutschland. This week brings yet another such release. The guys in Helrunar come to us from the North Rhine-Westphalia region of Germany (pffft….Dortmund fans) and have been challenging our ears with foreboding, pagan black metal since 2001. Four years removed from their last full length, Sól, they return to us in 2015 with the unsurprisingly dark Niederkunfft, and certainly do not disappoint.