Catching Up: Enslaved, Foretoken, Árstíðir Lifsins

After an involuntarily break from writing for the Vortex, I want to cover some of the releases that came out in the meantime. Over this short series of posts, I’m going to work through the last two months chronologically. This time’s selection of May releases is almost thoroughly blackened.

Foretoken – Ruin

The first band in this selection caught my attention due to a guest spot on their roster. And not a small one at that. Hannes Grossmann (Alkaloid, ex-Obscura, ex-Necrophagist) lays down some feral blasts for Foretoken‘s debut album Ruin. Originally a May release, the album was put back under wraps as the band was signed to Prosthetic Records. Rightfully so, as they present a competent sound for a first album.

Calling Ruin a symphonic death metal album would undersell what it has to offer, considering the quality of output usually found in the genre. While Foretoken may not be able to rival peers like Septicflesh in symphonic fidelity, they certainly match them in compositional skill. Where kitsch often weighs down symphonic metal, Foretoken show taste and restraint. The symphonic additions embellish the foundation of the best that post 2000 melodic death metal has to offer. A project to keep an eye on and a valuable addition to the Prosthetic Records roster.

Árstíðir Lifsins – Saga á tveim tungum II: Eigi fjǫll né firðir

Eigi fjǫll né firðir is the final part of a two part saga by icelandic Árstíðir Lifsins. The album duo is a story of two perspectives that covers the experiences of two siblings during the rule of king and saint Óláfr Haraldsson in the early 11th century. Like the band’s previous albums this is an epic exceeding the 70 minute mark entirely sung in old icelandic. Though a black metal album at its core, and a solid one at that, the real highlight here are the folk sections. Pensive acoustic guitars and strings echo through the forests and and the wind carries whispers across the plains.

A 2019 interview with the great Bardo Methodolgy underlines the historical integrity of the band’s concepts. To bridge the gap created by the language barrier, Árstíðir Lifsins supply extensive notes and background info with their physical releases.

Enslaved – Utgard

The final item for this selection is the upcoming album by progressive black metal veterans Enslaved. Utgard was scheduled to release earlier this year but postponed due to the current global crisis. So far, the band has shared two new tracks presenting themselves at their best. Homebound enchants with wistful lead melodies and turbulent verses. For the chorus, the band’s new drummer Iver Sandøy impresses with powerful cleans. On the more traditionally black Jettegryta, new keyboarder and vocalist Håkon Vinje shines with prominent key sections. New blood shaking up the status quo seems to do the band well and promises to make Utgard a strong addition to the band’s catalog.

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