Arstidir - Hvel
Season Of Mist
Folk Progressive Rock
12 songs (44'59")
Release year: 2018
Season Of Mist
Reviewed by Alex
Surprise of the month

Icelandic Arstidir (not to be confused with Arstidir Lifsens, another band from Iceland I had an opportunity to review not so long ago) were a complete unknown to me heretofore. My bet is not many ever heard of them, or the fact that Hvel is their third album. Getting released on Season of Mist may be a ticket to more widespread recognition, but if Hvel was a substandard album it wouldn’t matter one bit who signed Arstidir for their music.

When I listen to Himinhvel this is exactly what I depict Northern nature, and specifically Iceland, to be like. And I have never visited, although I continue to harbor a dream of doing it one day. Beautiful and beckoning, yet harsh, cold and unapproachable with gentle voice taking the utmost care of the vocals, Himinhvel is a perfect album opener, moodsetter and the overall statement. When Arstidir continues in the same key on Hvel, darker, mysterious and with undeniable Icelandic folk at its foundation, one after another masterpieces roll out from this trio’s collective brain. Hooks galore propel Vetur ad vori, Friðþægingin is a very interesting combination of jagged Latin rhythms and edgy staccato string instrumentation, but both tracks, along with instrumental Ro, provide the highest moments of Hvel for me. At times touching on the chamber symphonic territory, tracks like Vetur ad vori or Ro still maintain and unabashedly declare Arstidir’s origin as an Icelandic band. Reminding me of Ihsahn’s Hardingrock, Ainulindale, or, speaking of Iceland, Solstafir’s most folk rock moments, Arstidir achieves highest marks when folk, chamber and progressive blend.

Egotistically, I would want Hvel to be all like that, but Arstidir apparently have other ideas. They are not content with a simply folk angle. They wanted to be progressive beyond the boundaries of Northern nature inspiration. Quite a few tracks are in English, i.e. less mystery factor, and tend to meander a bit mired in acoustic strums (Someone Who Cares, Cannon). Compositions like that are good lullabies, remind me of Finnish singer songwriters like Kimmi Karki, John Richardson or Riitaoja. Yet somehow next to Himinhvel, Vetur ad vori, or Friðþægingin they sound a little ordinary. In the latter half of Hvel, after Ro anyway, only Shine with its elevated bass levels provides a darker, edgier soul scream, everything else settling the emotions a bit too much.

With not overly long compositions, sometimes sketches, Arstidir have done enough on Hvel to garner the highest praise. But it is precisely because of what I heard Arstidir can do, I wish every track on Hvel was a total knockout. It isn’t, but if you are into anything I mentioned above, or you want to hear excellent production quality folk progressive rock, Hvel should be on your list.

Killing Songs :
Himinhvel, Friðþægingin, Vetur ad vori, Shine, Ro
Alex quoted 85 / 100
0 readers voted
You did not vote yet.
Vote now

There are 0 replies to this review. Last one on Tue Mar 13, 2018 8:01 am
View and Post comments