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Review of the Album "Aspera Hiems Symfonia" by Norwegian Black Metal Band Arcturus

Updated on August 16, 2018

Introduction to Aspera Hiems Symfonia

"Aspera Hiems Symfonia" is the debut album of Norwegian atmospheric black metal band Arcturus released in 1996. To Thou Who Dwellest in the Night uses old English style lyrics as the raspy vocals of Garm (also known in the professional arena as Kristoffer Rygg) can resemble O.J. Mustonen, Mika Tonning and a few others probably. The song is about times being so dark and desolate as the breeze of a cold winter can make people shiver. I am more motivated to write this review due to having succeeded in other endeavors.

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One Distinct Quality About the Album

There are three songs on this album that have Norwegian lyrics in them. So Arcturus joins bands like Mokoma, Finntroll, and Stam1na because all these bands have had songs that are not sung in the English language. Even so, the atmospheric nature of Arcturus has its own soothing effect on the listener.

About the Song Wintry Grey

The concept and season of a cold winter’s gray is continued in the next song called Wintry Grey. During winter, streams are usually frozen and the landscape is barren. Some people get so sick of the winter that they are waiting for a change in the weather. They wonder whether that change will come or not. This writer personally enjoys the winter and it takes a certain personality to be able to put up with shorter days that come with this season and Daylight Savings Time.

"Wintry Grey"

The Bodkin & the Quietus, You Northwind, and The Fall of Man

The Bodkin & the Quietus is a song that is about constellations that give rise to what is called frigid memories. In our quest for knowledge, new thoughts can sometimes arise giving us the power to shape our destiny. The atmospheric song called Red and Black (song #4) is about the days getting darker as the power of the sword has transferred to different warriors. You Northwind is a song about a person that wanders home alone as the “pale hour” turns to the night sky. He walks all by himself and wanders in the wilderness as the plan is for his soul to wander until the end of time on this Earth. Next we have the very symphonic sounding song called Fall of Man and Garm does a very good job with the vocals in this song. The song tells of a fairy-tale of dying flowers and the fact that Viking men or birds that are never the same again.

The fall of man actually happened when Adam and Eve ate the fruit of the tree of knowledge even though they were not supposed to. The song in a way reminds me of the sin of mankind. It is one of the best songs in the career of Arcturus.

Final Thoughts About Aspera Hiems Symfonia

The last song called When the Cold Takes is a song about what can happen during the cold winters if one is not prepared for the conditions. As the snow falls and freezes everything in its path the wilderness can be very tough to get through. Overall, "Aspera Hiems Symfonia" is a decent atmospheric black metal release from Arcturus and it is a rather pleasant listen.

"Fall of Man"

© 2018 Ara Vahanian

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