|Arcturus - Aspera Hiems Symfonia
01. To Thou Who Dwellest In The Night
02. Wintry Grey
03. Whence & Whither Goest The Wind
04. Raudt Og Svart
05. The Bodkin & The Quietus (...To Reach The Stars)
06. Du Nordavind
07. Fall Of Man
08. Naar Kulda Tar (Frostnettenes Prolog)
From the ashes of Mortem, a death metal band, were born Arcturus, a band that would become in the forthcoming years a star to be followed, yet impossible to be reached. After the release of the 7" "My Angel" and the mini-cd "Constellation" and some changes in their line-up Arcturus reach 1995. Their line-up? Ulver's Garm on the vocals and Skoll on the bass, Mayhem's Hellhammer on the drumming, Sverd on the astral symphonies and Carl August Tidemann on the guitars. This is the year of their magnificent debut album "Aspera Hiems Symfonia".
Everyone in the band show their abilities! Garm whether he howls with his eerie voice like a wolf in the snowy landscape or chants is magnificent and quite expressive, Hellhammer's playing is wonderful and paces with the whole album in both up, mid and low tempo moments, Sverd paints the soundscape with his astral symphonies and evokes a unique dark atmosphere at moments, epic at others, August's guitars are not in the front of the production since the compositions are based on the keyboard melodies, the drumming and the vocals but they lend something unique to the whole atmosphere of the album (the solos are really beautiful) and finally Skoll's bass lines lend groove to the compositions with their nocturnal pulse.
"Aspera Heims Symfonia" is not a common black metal release, but a monument filled with dark aesthetic, bringing forth the melancholy of the Norwegian landscapes and forests where the frost and solitude rule, combined with the fury of Black Metal. The "wintry grey" is always present while listening to the album and slowly you lose yourself under the Norwegian sky and the shining Aurora Borealis staring at the Universe, feeling free "…to reach the stars"! Are you ready for a journey to the stars…?
"To thou who Dwellest in the Night" begins "Aspera Hiems Symfonia", a complex composition filled with both low and up tempo moments evoking various different emotions to the atmosphere, moments with synth-born melodies where you lose yourself in a world of dreams and others filled with black metal outbursts! Garm's expressive chants begin the following composition, Winty Grey while the flaming guitar riffs accompany him! A composition filled with a melancholic imposing atmosphere "through the woods where winter lays…"
"Whence and Whither Goest the Wind" continues the album, a composition filled with superb symphonies evoking a strange melancholic feeling along with the melancholic lyrics of wisdom lost and the vocals that have been recorded backwards. "Rødt og Svart" follows and haunts the listener with its nightmarish atmosphere with Garm filling the atmosphere with his howls and beautiful chants. And the nightmare continues with "The Bodkin & the Quietus (...to Reach the Stars)", filled with haunting keyboard melodies and eerie screams by Garm himself.
And the album continues with the filled with atmosphere and expression magnificent "Du Nordavind" and follows "Fall of Man", another composition where the symphonies rule and evoke a devout feeing in the air. All the shows have an end, whether we like or not, and the ending theme of "Aspera Hiems Symfonia" is "Naar Kulda Tar (Frostnettenes Prolog)" ending the album in an appropriate way filled with imposing symphonies!
The curtain falls and the ending speech belongs to Arcturus, the dramatic personas:
"All music & words on Aspera Hiems Symfonia emanated from our souls profoundly."
Written on 23.08.2004 by
"It is myself I have never met, whose face is pasted on the underside of my mind."