Garm - vocals
Sverd - keyboards
August - guitars
Hellhammer - drums
Skoll - bass
'Aspera Hiems Symfonia' is Arcturus' first full length release. It combines elements of Black metal with the symphonic style they are now known for.
Nowadays, the style of Arcturus has changed, with the release of 'La Masquerade Infernale' they became an avant garde metal band, and they do it extremely well.
Now, i must mention that when i say sing during this review, it's completely different from the type of singing he does on "La masquerade Infernale" and "The Sham Mirrors" the type of singing he does here is absolutely beautiful, for anyone who's heard the album "Kveldsanger" by Ulver, it's that kind of singing.
Track one - To Thou who dwellest in the Night: This song starts off fast, with a nice guitar riff with synth's setting the sound along with blaring double bass. The verse is dominated by Garm's screams and the keyboards, making for a great combination. As the song progress's the guitars become a little slower, letting the synth's take over even more. This doesn't last long as the speed soon follows, the same speed from the beginning of the song. There is an alternating pattern here between slow, epic riffs and the faster riffs. With Garm singing (yes, singing not screaming) over the slower riffs. Soon, an acoustic guitar shows up which plays perfectly over the synths, along a cello. When the cello ends, Garm enters singing/speaking/whispering. When Garm stops, theres a very technical solo, full of sweeps and speedy licks. The song ends with Garm screaming over a slow epic riff and somewhat progressive riff.
5/5 One of my favorites on the CD.
Track two - Wintry Grey: This song also starts off fast, Garm wastes no time, he immediately begins singing along with the coordination of the guitars and synths. The verse is a little weird, the synths take a more progressive edge. The song then turns 180 degrees, and there is a synth riff that almost sounds distant along with the banging of a few toms. The song comes back with an awesome riff and Garm singing again. The next part is one of the few times when you can really hear the guitars rather than the synths, it also includes Garm whispering. Then back to the verse, this part to me doesn't really need to be there. The double bass does eventually come in, but that doesn't really help this part of the song either. The song then does the epic stoppage. (the same 180 degree turn as before), this time it is accompanied by sounds of lightning and rain. The song ends on the sound of thunder.
Track three - Whence and Whither goest the Wind: Before i start this song, i tell you this, all of Garm's vocals on this song are played backwards on the actually track.It Starts off with blaring double bass along with a simple drum beat. Then the music comes in with the same drum beat behind it, the piano really stands out here. Sverd really shows off his piano skills. He is not using effects, it's just plain piano (on a keyboard of course) along with guitar chords to match what he is playing. The song then takes a huge turn towards the epic side, with constant snare rolls and epic synth riffs along with Garm's vocals. This next part i especially love, it portrays the image of chaos, the guitar and synths really sparkle here along with Garm talking. Then the song returns to it's previous state with piano riffs and guitar chords. The song basically repeats itself until about 3:45 where a faster riff comes into play, i don't really like this riff. The guitar work after this part is the star, up until the song ends, the guitar work matches everything that keyboards are doing perfectly. Right up until the end.
Track four - Raudt Og Svart Song starts with an off time guitar riff, then changes quickly into something a little more symphonic along with Garm singing along with music, until returning to the off time riff that the song began on. The song then repeats the syphonic parts from before. Garm's voice soon enters doing both singing and screams. This makes for an interesting combination. The guitar solo is quite good and it fits in perfectly with the song. The song soon totally stops, except for a few synth chords which is accompanied by a shriek, courtesy of Garm. The song then becomes very slow. Towards the end of the song, Garm comes in singing, i absolutely love this part. That is how the song ends.
Track five - The Bodkin and the Quietus This song starts extremely slow, starts off with guitars and odd synths full of chorus. Then in comes a guitar solo which picks the song up a little up until it becomes a little faster. The song doesn't get much faster but it does get faster with some heavier drums, and heavier guitar riffs. The synth's in this song are extremely odd. The song continues to be somewhat slow, though it picks up speed as it goes. Soon it returns to the first extremely slow riff, from the beginning along with the same solo. The ending has a solo, nothing special, it's actually more of a lead fill. The song ends on that.
Track six - Du Nordavind This song is extremely abstract, the synths at the beginning almost sound as if they are from a carnival. The verse riff is nothing special. Then in comes Garm singing again. Then back to the verse riff again. The next part is very interesting, a piano solo, along with the guitar playing the harmony part, and let me tell you, this piano solo is not something that you could play with your eyes closed. The song then comes to a stop, with just drums and a very 'distant' keyboard and bass accompanied by Garm talking. Soon enters the guitar playing a riff that fits perfectly. The song then picks up with Garm singing again. The guitar riff here also seems like it was taken from a carnival, though it fits perfectly with the song, no complaints here.
Track seven - Fall of Man Opens with a piano playing away, with some odd synth's in the back. Then in comes the guitar, full of energy, along with synth's that play basically the same as the intro but it fits perfectly. I love this verse riff, Garm screams make the synth riff here sound so much better. Then a synth lead fill along with a perfect guitar. Then in comes the piano along with guitars. Then a very symphonic part, there are both synths and piano's here along with guitars and Garms screams. Then the synth lead fill again. The upcoming part of this song, is by far the best part on the album, enter synth's of epic proportions and guitar chords that fit perfectly. Along with Garm singing along to the sound of the synths. The guitar solo begins somewhat slow almost as a lead fill, but when he begins to sweep the song is so full of energy, the climax of the album, right here. The solo is very nice along with epic synths that Arcturus is known for.
5/5 Best song on the album.
This album gets a 4/5 from me, i love it. It's a great listen for anyone into Symphonic Black metal, or even progressive metal.