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Arcturus Vinyl Records
Aspera Hiems Symfonia (Out Of Stock)• 180 Gram Blue Vinyl
• 1000 Only Limited Edition
Aspera Hiems Symfonia is the debut studio album by Norwegian avant-garde metal band Arcturus
Arcturus was one of the first Norwegian black metal bands to incorporate a large dose of symphonic keyboards to their music, leaving behind the rawness and brutality of their contemporaries at an early stage of their career (there are four re-recorded songs from 1994's Constellation EP in here). In fact, their approach to the newly-born (by that date) symphonic black metal sound is less aggressive and more melodic than the one of Emperor, Dimmu Borgir, Limbonic Art and similar bands, having some similarities with atmospheric black metal instead.
The music is mostly mid-paced, with blast-beats only being present briefly on the first track. The keyboards are at the forefront of the music, using symphonic arrangements and/or atmospheric effects. The guitar work is varied enough, playing melodic lines along with the keyboard ones, sometimes being more of a rhythmic instrument, playing either mid-tempo riffs or tremolo-picked ones, and with many songs featuring neoclassical-influenced guitar leads and blistering solos (like the ones on 'To Thou Who Dwellest in the Night' or 'Fall of Man'), where the guitars have their moments to shine.
The drumming is technical and precise, and even though the rhythms are quite basic, Hellhammer spices them up with his characteristic use of cymbals and double bass (to prevent the songs from sounding plodding and slow). Garm hadn't quite developed his charismatic baritone vocal style, and for most of the time in here, he goes for full-on harsh vocals. Actually, his best harsh vocal performance ever is on this record, surpassing (by little) even the one on Ulver's Nattens Madrigal. His screams sound passionate yet spiteful and angry, like the one on 'Raudt og svart', or the "THROUGH THE WOOOOOAAAAADDDSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!" section of 'Wintry Grey', to name a few. Nevertheless, his clean vocals are still present, but on choral, spoken or whispered sections, and doesn't sound as strong as the ones of posterior works.
Other feature of the record that makes it different from its contemporaries is the progressive approach to songwriting, something that can be evidenced in the frequent time signature shifts and the frequent changes in the structure of the songs, as well as some unusual sounds (like the reversed vocals of 'Whence & Whither Goest the Wind') and odd, quirky (yet not blatantly carnivalesque like the ones on 'La masquerade infernale') melodies, which give it an experimental edge that would be explored with more depth in the subsequent releases of the band.
The thin production (with the airy keyboards, the razor-blade guitars, the metallic, thumping drums, and the echoey vocals) gives the record a cold feeling, and it has this sort of winternight-esque atmosphere, like being in a forest while snowing, contemplating the northern lights (yes, like the ones on the cover) and the stars. This "cosmic winter atmosphere" gives the music a contemplative, calm and mellow feeling.
The glorious symphonic arrangements, the soaring guitar lines, the emotional but not straightforward or standard songwriting, and the atmosphere are the things that make Aspera Hiems Symfonia so special and one of the most remarkable achievements in the realm of symphonic black metal, an album that manages to be accessible enough to draw new listeners to the genre, but at the same time is one of their most forward-thinking and intriguing works.
- greywanderer7 (The Metal Archives)LP 1
1. To Thou Who Dwellest In The Night
2. Wintry Grey
3. Whence And Whither Goest The Wind
5. The Bodkin & The Quietus
6. Du Nordavnid
7. Fall Of Man
8. NaarKulda Tar (FrostnettenesProlog)
1. The Deep Is The Skies (bonus track)
2. Cosmojam (bonus track)
3. RaudtOgSvart (taken from Constellation promo CD)
4. Icebound Streams And Vapours Grey (taken from Constellation promo CD)
5. NaarKulda Tar (taken from Constellation promo CD)
6. Du Nordavind (taken from Constellation promo CD)
7. My Angel (taken from My Angel 7 EP)
8. Morax (taken from My Angel 7 EP)
$35.99180 Gram Audiophile Virgin Vinyl LP - 2 LPs SealedTemporarily out of stock