ARCTURUS — Aspera Hiems Symfonia

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ARCTURUS - Aspera Hiems Symfonia cover
3.93 | 29 ratings | 4 reviews
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Album · 1996

Tracklist

1. To Thou Who Dwellest In The Night (6:46)
2. Wintry Grey (4:34)
3. Whence & Whither Goest The Wind (5:15)
4. Raudt Og Svart (5:49)
5. The Bodkin & The Quietus (...To Reach The Stars) (4:36)
6. Du Nordavind (4:00)
7. Fall Of Man (6:06)
8. Naar Kulda Tar (Frostnettenes Prolog) (4:21)

Total Time 41:29

Line-up/Musicians

- Garm / Vocals
- Carl August Tidemann / Guitar
- Skoll / Bass
- Steinar Sverd Johnsen / Keyboards
- Hellhammer / Drums

About this release

June 3rd, 1996
Ancient Lore Creations

Thanks to Vehemency, triceratopsoil, Lynx33, adg211288 for the updates

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ARCTURUS ASPERA HIEMS SYMFONIA reviews

Specialists/collaborators reviews

Warthur
The debut album by Arcturus finds the band not quite reaching the symphonic intricacies of La Masquerade Infernale, instead yielding something more like a mingling of black metal and melodic prog - in particular, some of Steinar Sverd Johnsen's keyboard passages in the quieter moments put me in mind of the likes of early Marillion and other Genesis-influenced neo-prog projects. This unlikely fusion yields intoxicating fruit here, with the album neatly blending the styles at a time when the idea of sophisticated Norwegian black metal was still not yet entirely given credit. A majestic counterpoint to the more kvlt efforts of their contemporaries.
UMUR
"Aspera Hiems Symfonia! is the debut full-length studio album by Norwegian black metal act Arcturus. The album was originally released through Ancient Lore Creations in 1996. Four out of eight tracks on the album are re-recorded tracks from the "Constellation (1994)" EP. The lineup has changed a bit since the release of the EP though. Skoll is now credited for playing the bass and neo-classical influenced guitarist Carl August Tidemann (Winds) is also featured in the lineup. The latter´s playing style has a great impact on Arcturus sound compared to the early releases by the band.

The music is symphonic black metal with lots of neo-classical keyboard and guitar elements. The vocals by Kristoffer "Garm" Rygg (Ulver, Borknagar) are both raspy and clean. The music is very atmospheric and mostly mid-paced. There´s a strong melodic foundation in the material and compared to other contemporary and more harsh black metal acts Arcturus were definitely one of the more polished acts on the scene. The musicianship are strong and while the sound production isn´t that well sounding (The album would be re-mastered and re-released on the "Aspera Heims Symfonia/Constellation/My Angel (2002)" compilation album with an improved sound quality), it´s not a major issue for the listening experience.

"Aspera Hiems Symfonia" is overall a decent quality symphonic black metal album and if you enjoy other artists in the polished, neo-classical tinged, and keyboard driven part of the black metal genre this one will probably be right down your alley too. The compositions are intriguing and the musicianship strong, but the sound production does bring my rating down a bit. A 3 star (60%) rating is warranted.
Phonebook Eater
7/10

"Aspera Hiems Symfonia" is a cult Black Metal album.

The majority of dark and macabre music for music fans is Black Metal. But this Norwegian band Arcturus is one of those bands that make Black Metal an intellectual type of music, because of the highly inspired musicians that form the band, the one that shines the most being Kristoffer “Garm” Rygg, also singer of Norwegian band Ulver. Their debut is the pure metal album that every experimental metal band starts with. Usually these albums aren’t that great, some are dull and uninspired. But this is not the case, as a matter of fact, this is a really enjoyable album.

While “Aspera Hiems Symfonia” is not a cheerful listen, it's mostly a more meditative and solitary album, with some touches of melancholy. But it definitely isn’t an album that gives you the chills, or makes you feel depressed. It is, like I said, much more intellectual sounding than a lot of Black Metal today, and I honestly never though I was going to say that about a Symphonic Black Metal work. As a matter of fact, this is one of the first albums of that genre, and it is important for its formation, even though not as much as the works of a band such as Emperor ( “In The Nightside Eclipse” is the first album that can be defined as Symphonic Black Metal). However, musically speaking, it can be kind of spooky at times, especially because of the flimsy keyboards that give always a more spectral feeling to the sound. These keyboards are the main attraction for the album, to the point where they proceed Garm himself. They always are present, whether to make an atmosphere or to simply accompany the other instruments. Garm’s shrieking is pretty intense and effective, I’ve always liked his way of getting the job done, even in the early days of Ulver. But his clean vocals are the most fascinating; they sound like an ancient, Viking chant, even though there are lyrics sung. His whispers are also really effective in some passages.

There are songs here that really impressed me, and are immediate highlights, “Wintry Grey”, definitely my favorite of the album. The keyboard arrangements are so well done, the drumming is intense, Garm gives a great performance in both clean and shrieking vocals. Other really good songs are “ Raudt Og Svart” and “Fall Of Man”, both have interesting atmospheres that make this a quite enjoyable listen. There are also good moments in the opener “To Thou Who Dwellest In The Night”, an overall more guitar driven piece, that has a more traditional feel to it, however there are interesting hooks that sound quite new.

I tend to see “Aspera Hiems Symfonia” as a cult album for Black Metal fans; if you do not know this album and you’re a fan f the genre, I strongly suggest you check this out. But know that this album is an isolated case for Arctuturs: with their following album, “La Masquerade Infernale”, the direction they go on is anything but this one, and so can be said for the third album “The Sham Mirrors”.

Members reviews

metalmillennium
The supergroup consisting of Garm (Ulver, Borknagar) and Hellhammer (Mayhem), among other musicians, puts out their debut album to show what they have to offer the music world. When I saw the lineup for this band, I rushed out to hear what they could do as a whole, since I was a huge fan of the bands that each of the musicians came from. And i must say, I wasn't dissapointed one bit.

Considering that Garm has one of the best rasps in Black Metal, you know the vocals on a record like this are going to be top notch, especially with the kind of music he is working with. The production is trebly at best, but this gives it a kind of eerie feeling that leaves your mind to wander in different places. Hellhammer's drumming is incredible, which I was expecting, since he is the best metal drummer around right now and has drummed for about every band known to man.

So with all this, the songs themselves are peices that eaze their way though the cd. They are all very technical with symphonic keyboard lines making themselves known in the background. The first track of this cd, "To Thou Who Dwellest In The Night", opens up with a blast of double bass and keyboards, then transfers into Garm screaming vocals over it. But the song slows down and it turns into a slower symphonic seance that takes you mind into a completely different place. Most of the songs do the same pattern thoughout the album, with about half of the songs in Norweigan, and never get boring one bit. Not to mention, there is some chanting thrown into the mix.

I keep listening to this album over and over. It's one of those albums that you keep listening to in amazement becuase of the musical talent and song writing. I can't wait until they put out their next album, cause I'll be buying it on the first day. Completely recommended and mandatory.

Ratings only

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  • MorniumGoatahl
  • Necrotica
  • powermetal2000
  • KatiLily
  • milosshomi80
  • jsorigar
  • Anster
  • Wilytank
  • Lynx33
  • jose carlos
  • progpostman
  • anunnaki
  • (De)progressive
  • omega_switch
  • Xaxaar
  • Urs Blank
  • Limbonic_666
  • Tlön
  • NorseGangsta
  • Fantacide
  • Hagbard Celine
  • sauromat
  • Jake Kobrin
  • justametalfan

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