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Arcturus - Aspera Hiems Symfonia CD (album) cover




Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

3.79 | 92 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

4 stars Aspera Hiems Symfonia is under-rated in my opinion. This was one of the first 'Black Metal' albums to capture my imagination, and thus has a lot of nostalgic value to me... and it's still my favorite Arcturus album. Very symphonic, atmospheric, and unique Black Metal; much more technical and experimental than the average Norwegian Black Metal from the mid-90's. The songwriting is riveting... bordering on genius at times.

The songs are dominated by the interplay between the gloomy omnipresent synthesizers of Sverd, and Carl August Tidemann's evil riffing. Everything is propelled by the raging double-bass battery of Hellhammer, who's spotless performance elevates the band's sound to a much higher level than it would reach with a lesser drummer.

Garm's demonic rasps are beautiful to my ears... i've always thought his vocal performances on the early Ulver albums were some of the best in the entire genre, and his work here is magnificent as well. His occasional clean vocals provide a nice bit of contrast, but don't do much to brighten the mood... the album's sound is painted entirely in shades of grey and black.

'Wintry Grey' was one of the first Black Metal songs i ever heard back in the 90's... and i was very disappointed when i discovered that the rest of the bands in the genre didn't sound anything like this. The clean vocals are mesmerizing on this track... and the icy keyboards totally transport you to a ghostly dimension full of lost wandering spectres.

The vocals run backwards throughout 'Whence & Wither Goest the Wind', creating a very disorienting and creepy effect... while the music is closer to Folk Metal than anything Blackened.

'The Bodkin & the Quietus' is a favorite of mine which features some beautiful Moogy-sounding synthesizers, organs, scary horror-film piano arpeggios, and entrancing clean background 'aaah' vocals. Anyone questioning whether this album is 'Progressive' or not should listen to this track. Absolutely brilliant!

Every song is wonderful and the quality of the compositions remains very high throughout... the songs never remain static for long; ever-changing and evolving in unexpected ways. This album would be an excellent addition to any Metal collection in general, and i believe Progressive Metal fans will find plenty to love on this record.

AdamHearst | 4/5 |


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