Aspera Hiems Symfonia
Review by Luka on November 5, 2001.
Arcturus is another one of those bands that seems to exist solely as a fun-project deal, hanging around by simply being immersed and held together by the grand complex web of the relations and friendships of Norway’s black metal talents. The country’s local-vocal Garm takes the frontman’s position and the famous Hellhammer does the drums, although, like the entire album, he seems to take things in a laidback manner and doesn’t seem too eager to show off his incredible talent.
The album is interesting, for sure, and seems to have a way of bringing together the extremes and merging them perfectly. Garm can make his voice range from sad and beautiful to downright nasty and rasping. And frankly I am one person who is damn sick of having great music ruined by black metal’s incessant annoying rasp. 'Wintry Grey' has him using the same euphonious sorrowful voice, which he once did for Ulver and for which I’ve grown to regard him as one of today’s best vocalists. The song is so wondrously sad, and at the same time has parts that sound distinctly ‘evil’. This is a combination I like! All songs here have an epic feel, but are not necessarily that long, this is most apparent in 'Raudt og Svart'. Excellent arrangement and the melodies just melt into one another.
The guitars are very weak and tinny in the production. Drums are crisp and sharp but the keyboard and synths take the lead position on the album. And it all works to the albums advantage, they knew what they wanted and did the production themselves. It's unusual to hear a metal album with the guitars turned down!
Amazing and often catchy melodies are conjured by the synths and an atmosphere of musical perfection. This is musicians letting their talent roam free and take them (and us) to places we’ve have never been to. The songs just flow and follow no rules, they create and inspire but often hit lows, yet the music is so mysterious and unordinary that I feel like that which seems bad to me would probably impress someone else.
Bottom Line: A great listen and has amazing songwriting that works on many levels but you have to be in the mood.
Categorical Rating Breakdown
Rating: 8.4 out of 10