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Aspera Hiems Symfonia
• 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 Sealed Buy Now
MMyrkur is the one-woman black metal musical act of Danish musician Amalie Bruun. Myrkur has announced the release of a full length album - M - which will be produced by Kristoffer Rygg of Ulver, and feature Teloch of Mayhem on guitars, with Øyvind Myrvoll of Nidingr and Dodheimsgard on drums.1. Skøgen Skulle Dø
3. Onde Børn
4. Vølvens Spådom
5. Jeg er Guden, I er Tjenerne
8. Byssan Lull
9. Dybt i Skoven
11. Norn$19.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
Norwegian National Opera (Out of Stock)Taken from the band's landmark show at the Norwegian National Opera House in Oslo, this is a stunning concert from Norway's legendary purveyors of Dark
Symphonic Art Rock. Packaged in gatefold artwork, the performance is now available in the double LP format.LP1
1. The Moon Piece
3. Let The Children Go
4. Little Blue Bird
5. Rock Massif
6. For The Love Of God
7. In The Red
10. Excerpts Of Silence
11. A Memorable Fancy
1. Hallways Of Always
3. A Cold Kiss
4. Like Music
5. Not Saved
6. The Leg Cutting Piece$29.99Vinyl LP - 2 LPs Sealed Temporarily out of stock
Terrestrials (Out Of Stock)
Thick Stock Cardboard Stoughton Style Tip On Jacket
180 Gram Vinyl
Limited To 3,000
Four figures stand atop a summit, staring east out over a vast, frostbitten wasteland, the black sun dwindling in the west, casting their shadows across the plain. They await another clan, legendary for their slow approach. Eyes on the horizon, searching, patiently, for some signal of the arrival, some plume of smoke that would announce that the time had come. At last, at the edge of the plane, they note a black banner, and soon two hooded figures appear in the dusk. A horn sounds, and drumbeats echo through the valley.
It's only the threshold of the distant horizon that limits the scope of Terrestrials, but like much of Earth, its landscape is arid, only disclosing its secrets upon active contemplation of its component dust. From the opening strains, hidden at the foot of a vertiginous crescendo from zero decibels, the album recalls a technique of Andrei Tarkovsky's, later developed in the films of BÉla Tarr. The eight-and-a-half-minute opening shot in Tarr's epic Sátántangó laterally tracks cattle carefully plodding through a dilapidated commune in search of food from muddy pasture. As the audience investigates the frame for clues to Tarr's purpose, he slowly reveals to them a symbolic vision of the film as a whole, inviting contemplation of the rich surfaces of the decayed buildings and the labyrinthine entrapment of the commune's inhabitant kine, some playing at leadership and some dragging their feet, cow and human alike awaiting deliverance by a dark messiah. Terrestrials proceeds in a remarkably similar fashion. As each track unfurls, its glacial pace arrests the listener's search for novelty, forcing attention to the profundities of the mix and the texture that the interlaced sounds create; and yet it also deepens the desire for what each step forward promises, the crisis that the procession patiently unveils.
Terrestrials features more complex instrumentation than most of the works of either party. Sunn O)))'s deep bass and endlessly sustained guitar feature heavily on each track of Terrestrials, but so do Ulver's electronics and a myriad of additions, including trumpets, didgeridoo, and strings. Although the tracks apparently began as a set of improvisations recorded at Ulver's Oslo studio, the vast scope of the release clearly evolved out of the various mixing and arrangement sessions helmed by Ulver's Kristoffer Rygg and Sunn O)))'s Stephen O'Malley between 2008 and 2012. Here they achieved a synthesis that stylistically transcends the mere combination of the two groups and their traditional pathways, with Ulver sealing up the cracks of Sunn O)))'s immense backdrop and heightening the atmosphere with tense strings, sculpted textures, and insistent rhythm. It's this attention to the subtleties that renders Terrestrials monolithic; they ensure that each tick of the clock yields an array of sonic qualities, each progressing slowly in themselves but together moving the whole mass of sound forth at a constant click.
From the trumpets on "Let There Be Light" to the drum-like pound of the bass and didgeridoo in "Western Horn," Terrestrials relentlessly heralds its own arrival, an endless parade slouching towards Bethlehem. By the time Rygg's vocals enter at the middle of "Eternal Return," the crawling pace of the album has ensured their sublimity. Taken on its own, this short section would scarcely justify a song unto itself; it emerges out of the sudden but carefully orchestrated resolution of the murky depths of the track's recesses, manifesting as a piercing clarity and a distillation of the album's theme of annunciation. Its lyrics, rich in spite of their brevity, conceal a messianic yearning in the fallow desert, a hope for deliverance from the stasis of the Egyptian yoke and the confusion of exile, and a dark prophecy of a "liminal animal" with "golden nature" of the sinful calf. Rygg urges us to "listen silent."
Gongs or guitars ring out. This final stage of Terrestrials heralds a return of an immense mystery. What approaches, its lumbering gait constantly pressing onward, can't divulge its nature until it finally arrives. The quintessential figure of doom is an immense behemoth, a force of nature whose sublime shadow conceals it from view even as its thundering steps reveal its impending advent. But here we lie in wait. Terrestrials delivers on its persistent promise by offering another transcendental promise of a future culmination. But the restraint they exert in their advance to the beautiful oasis at the center of "Eternal Return" suggests that, here, Sunn O))) and Ulver are more interested in the process as it happens through time, tracking the march of the sun across the heavens, marking each moment as it slips back into eternity.
- Matthew Philips (Tiny Mix Tapes)1. Let There Be Light
2. Western Horn
3. Eternal Return$16.99180 Gram Audiophile Virgin Vinyl LP - Sealed Temporarily out of stock
Dark Age (Out of Stock)Dark Age, the second album from Mothlite (Daniel O'Sullivan - Ulver) Mothlite is the brainchild of Daniel O'Sullivan. A prolific composer and multi-instrumentalist, O'Sullivan is a member of Ulver and a regular collaborator with Sunn O))), Guapo, Æthenor, Miracle and Grumbling Fur.
Mothlite allows him to move in different musical directions to those taken by his other projects,
recalling the deepest remnants of 80's sounds (Talk Talk, Japan, Cocteau Twins) and fusing it
with an innovative, forward-thinking approach to programming and sound design. The result
is a grandiose gothic-pop euphoria that retains a subliminally progressive musical depth and
O'Sullivan's songwriting collaborations with The Big Pink and Ulver are apparent in Mothlite's
keen sense of production and lush atmospheric arrangements.
Mothlite transcend any obvious reference point and follow a most novel path of paradoxes. Love, death, death of love, self-loathing, megalomania. All dipped in a thick treacly molasses of ecstatic melody.1. Wounded Lions
3. Seeing In The Dark
4. The Blood
5. Something In The Sky
6. The Underneath
8. Dreamsinter Nightspore
10. Dark Age
11. Red Rook$24.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Temporarily out of stock