Windir - Arntor
Voices of Wonder
Melodic Black Metal
7 songs (46'12")
Release year: 1998
Reviewed by Alex
Archive review

This review is the last one in my series of Windir reviews as a commemoration of Valfar, aka Terje Bakken, the soul and heart of the now defunct band. Valfar has sadly left this world earlier this year under very tragic circumstances. Windir, honorably so, decided not to continue without him as a frontman, main composer and everything else. Thus, whatever legacy Windir has left to date is going to be it, no more brilliant Norse folk music driven black metal albums. So, read on this review, and the two links which appear below, and go get every Windir piece you can lay your hands on. Valfar certainly deserved that.

Arntor is as deep as I ever ventured back into Windir discography, and I kind of done this series backwards, Likferd, 1184 and now Arntor. However, there may have been a purpose to that, as Arntor is where the roots have been laid. Sung entirely in Norwegian (or more specifically its Sogndal dialect), Arntor is also pretty much Valfar’s child, as he does everything but drums, clean vocals and lead guitar himself on the album. A lot of little musical ideas introduced on Arntor have been subsequently refined and reintroduced on 1184 and Likferd.

As a person who thinks that Sagas of Icelanders is a magnificent piece of literature I find Valfar’s delving into Norwegian history exceptionally interesting. In Arntor, ein Windir (Arntor, a Warrior) he describes a classic story of Norwegian war heroes Arntor, Isak Torgilsson and the sons of Arngeir ambushing and defeating the corrupt governor Ivar Dape loyal to tyrannical king Sverre Sigurdsson. Unfortunately, forces loyal to Magnus Erlingsson were eventually defeated by Sverre, but the legend of a popular uprising lives on. In other song, Kong Hydnes Haug (The Burial Mound of King Hydnes) Valfar describes the grave of an old Norwegian Viking king with such precision, it can be used for history books.

All these historical references are laid to a captivating melodic breed of black metal. The magic can be woven with just accordion and synth lines with quiet drum and guitar being added later, as in Byrjing (The Beginning). Or, it can be grinding guitar crazy with the maniacal dancing of Ending. Valfar had the innate ability to combine melodic and chaotic, brutal and soothing, folk and modern. His songs breathe both 12th century Norway and modern black metal at the same time. Insane blasts and screams on Arntor, ein Windir never overshadow its glorious melody. Galloping “heehaw” seems very much in place with some acoustics, tribal campfire drumbeats and waltz rhythms. Svartesmeden og Lundamyrstrollet (The Blacksmith and the Troll of Lundamyri) sounds almost apocalyptic, its harmony and storm alarm guitar colliding in one hellish explosion. Kampen (The Struggle) projects real Norse people, or epic dwarfs or trolls marching through deep snow. As the track unfolds projected strength (clean vocals) is replaced by desperation (Valfar screams). His vocals are without a doubt classic black metal, unintelligible and screechy, but the shivers run down the spine when you hear the tortured screams at the end of Kong Hydnes Haug (The Burial Mound of King Hydnes). In this regard, Saknet (The Longing) has the most impact on me personally. Its magnificent keyboards and sometimes insane tempo convey a frozen soul, given up feeling you have to immerse yourself in. When the church organ and clean choir descend, you just feel completely defeated and floating away on the stream of life/death.

Arntor production is absolutely not as good as 1184 and Likferd. I don’t mind it sounding raw, but the instruments aren’t balanced real well with guitars and keys piercing through and drum lines barely heard. Therefore, I had to deduct some points from my quote which should not diminish my exhilaration with this album.

I am not sure what else I can say about Windir. If there was just one black metal band you would want to hear, it might as well be it. I don’t know whether it should be Arntor, or the latter two albums, but you owe it to yourself to hear at least one of them.

Killing Songs :
Byrjing, Arntor, ein Windir, Saknet
Alex quoted 89 / 100
Other albums by Windir that we have reviewed:
Windir - 1184 reviewed by Alex and quoted 93 / 100
Windir - Likferd reviewed by Alex and quoted 91 / 100
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