Review: Árstíðir – Nivalis

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Every now and then an act outside of the metal genre finds my attention and completely grabs a hold of me. There is so much musical talent around the world to be experienced and thanks to the internet, there is a way to hear practically all of it. It would be an absolute crime not to explore the sounds of music offered by musicians from around the world, as I’ve realised there is always a connection to be made from every genre of music.

In the case of Icelandic independent group Árstíðir, they channel their creativity in a way that separates their music from a lot of the more extreme music that I have adored from Iceland. Presenting a poignant synchronisation of stringed instruments, tasteful percussion, and beautifully harmonised vocals, Árstíðir reveal themselves through an emotive blend of indie, folk, and soft rock on their upcoming album “Nivalis.” Set to be released June 22nd via Season Of Mist Records, the distinct group of gifted musicians seem to be a surprising fit for the otherwise blackened metal label that also houses quite a few other Icelandic metal acts (Auðn, Sólstafir, Zhrine, Kontinuum).

It’s also important to note the value of the labels artistic integrity, as they always have a wide selection of bands that never conform to any popular type of sound. Although Árstíðir are not a metal band per se, they definitely bring forth acoustic sections and vocal melodies that give off a very dark vibe, structurally and musically speaking. There is a melancholy atmosphere throughout the entire forthcoming record that lasts for thirteen total tracks. Given the bleak nature of “Nivalis,” there is most certainly tranquil and calming qualities to this entire album as well. The album opens up with the enormous ‘While This Way,’ which begins with a very subtle vocal line that grows into one of the most powerful choruses and intriguing melodies on the entire album. The kindred voice paired with the build up of the stirring violin strings sparks a variety of emotions that had my ears glued to the stereo. Producing contagious choruses with enchanting vocal harmonies on tracks like ‘Lover’ and ‘Entangled’ your given the opportunity to connect with heart-rending lyrics, sung with very stable and honest voices.

‘Circus’ embodies the acoustic-laden folk sound that Árstíðir are so great at delivering. Creating an alluring vocal melody that pairs seamlessly with the violin, cello, and thump of the bass drum, ‘Circus’ is easily a favourite track off of this release. The tidbits of Steven Wilson influence heard on ‘Like Snow’ and Simon & Garfunkel’s impact on ‘Conviction,’ are definitely found at the core of the bands sound, but what says something great about Árstíðir is that they took the opportunity to expand their sound on tracks

like ‘Mute’ and ‘In The Wake Of You’ into more electronic/pop territory. I like how the second half of the record contains a different variety of vocal harmonies and percussive elements than the first half. ‘Thar Sem Enginn Fer,’ which translates into “where no one goes” also shows something unique as it is all sung in Icelandic and makes this a really standout track as far as vocal and lyrical content goes.

With “Nivalis,” Árstíðir show their roots and where they come from, but also create a more modern sound in their songs that draws you in and leave you wanting more. The trio brought along an array of expert instrumentalists to assist in carrying out this album as well. Their ability to express such sentimental lyrics with multi layered voices is striking and works so well with the crisp acoustic production on this record. A record that showcases compelling compositions from start to finish and offers a healthy dose of vocal varieties and instrumentation. Undoubtedly inspired by the vast breathtaking landscapes and extreme change in seasons of their home country, Árstíðir provide a musical wonderland for listeners to get lost in with “Nivalis.”

Pre-order your copy of Nivalis out June 22nd via Season of Mist HERE!