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On disc: Árstíðir Lífsins

J÷tunheima Dolgfer­ - Mike Thompson - 8 stars
Vapna Laekjar Eldr - Lars Bj°rn - 6 stars

Vapna Laekjar Eldr

Vapna Laekjar Eldr
(Vßn Records - 2012)

From Iceland comes the band ┴rstÝ­ir LÝfsins (means: The Season Of Life), and they are now ready with their second album. There are 9 members of this group, and they do a combination of power metal and folk metal where they perform all the lyrics in native Icelandic language. What is most significant about the songs is how include the Icelandic atmosphere into the songs, the nature and the history of their people. Nice music with hard shell, but often soft parts sown into the songs. They are not trying to make any commercial attempts with their music, they just do it from their hearts.

6 stars

Lars Bj°rn


J÷tunheima Dolgfer­

J÷tunheima Dolgfer­
(Vßn Records - 2010)

┴rstÝ­ir LÝfsins is the brainchild of one Stefßn, who wanted to create music with foundations in folk and black metal to convey the feelings of Viking age Iceland. This approach may sound like nothing new but Stefßn also stated that he wished to avoid all the trappings of modern say 'Viking metal' in his music. Now that got my attention.

J÷tunheima Dolgfer­ is the debut album from this band and at seventy minutes is quite a long album. The music is mostly based in black metal with quite a raw sound. Fused into this are many elements of folk and atmospheric music. The track Eigi hefr ß augu, unnskÝ­s komit sÝ­an is an almost-eight minute pure folk song very similar in style to some of Třr's music, but unlike the Faroese band ┴rstÝ­ir LÝfsins actually managed to hold my attention throughout.

The music generally has a very melancholy feel to it. Not depressive, just an underlying feeling of sadness that permeates the music at every level. There is no 'raise your swords and praise Odin' bullocks in this album. Just well-structured, perfectly crafted songs that breathe some new life into the stale folk metal genre.

For all of its great ideas I did find the execution of certain elements to be a little below par and this is mainly due to the more extreme side of the band. The vocals are probably the greatest fault with J÷tunheima Dolgfer­. There are many styles used throughout this album, mostly clean folky male vocals and extreme black metal shrieks. I have no problem with the clean singing but the black metal side of things needs some serious improvement. I cannot stand the high-pitched, hoarse shrieking!

Musically, again, the folk and ambient side of ┴rstÝ­ir LÝfsins is just amazing but it is the black metal side which lets them down as it is very much typical, average and uninspired black metal in many segments of the album. The extreme parts of the album are the parts you want to skip to get back to the folky stuff. I don't mean to imply that it is bad at all, its most certainly not, its just some parts that are.

In conclusion I would recommend you listen to this album. It is a real credit to a band that has tried to treat their subject matter with the respect it deserves. Its a flawed masterpiece in many ways but I am hopeful that the band will only get better.

8 stars

Mike Thompson


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