Árstíðir Lifsins is the combined brainchild of three very busy dudes: German pagan metallers Kerbenok's Stefán (who juggles guitars, bass, piano, vibraphone, and vocals), German black metal Vikings Helrunar's Marcel Dreckmann on vocals, and Icelandic black metallers Carpe Noctem's Árni Bergur Zoëga, who also handles vocals, drums, viola, and cello (and whose impossibly deep, sonorous voice was featured in the Úlfsmessa's third and final installment, which took place at Roadburn earlier this year).
With all of those cooks in all those kitchens, one would expect to find the project under threat of collapsing in on itself—but instead, on new EP, Heljarkviða, Árstíðir Lifsins makes this kind of collaboration look absolutely effortless. Their take on windswept, magisterial folk/black metal is a rare find, especially when it's coming from two scenes known for much more chaotic sounds.
The project was founded in 2008 with the stated idea to "approach Old Norse literature and art in a musically and lyrically sophisticated way," and so far, things are going swimmingly. While the more traditional blasts of rasping black metal go down a treat, the band's moody, heavily atmospheric folk/black metal finds its voice most readily when enveloped in elegant strings and hydra-headed vocal choirs, with Zoëga's mesmerizing baritone adding an almost cinematically epic feel to the proceedings.
Stream the EP in its spellbinding entirety below, and snag a copy from Ván Records on January 27.
Kim Kelly is missing Iceland on Twitter.