Review by UnhinderedbyTalent for Windir - Arntor (1999)
The melodic black/folk/viking metal of Windir is perhaps an acquired taste. With the late Valfar doing nearly everything on Arntor (barring the drums) including the production and mixing job the album throws up traditional instrumentation such as guitars and keyboards as well as the more folky (or eclectic depending on your viewpoint) accordion for good measure.
To these ears, all the pieces do fit together, to a point at least. The album celebrates well the historical and mythical aspects of the band's subject matter, embedding well the catchy alongside the more medieval/traditional sounds whilst giving enough space to the more melodic end of the black metal spectrum. In terms of pace the album has a fair share of variety, adopting a range of always structured tempos that hold the attention well. The focus is still heavily on the more folk/viking tinged aspect of the sound however and this will please fans of the sub-genre muchly.
You can't ignore the quality of the musicianship on show here with some superb lead work and racing riffage to boot that showcase Valfar's (and some then guest musicians who of course came to be full time band members from the next opus onwards) talent and panache. The tracks feel well arranged in terms of their individual structure as well as their place in the album as a whole and the album has a real sense of flow.
It is a bit samey though and as such some tracks don't stand up on their own. Some of this is due to the barrage of styles deployed and some of it due to a peddling of the same ideas that have already been explored on the record earlier. It was still a step up from their debut however. The band really hit their stride on 1184 in my opinion and given that record was still some two years away at the point of this release this was still a strong sophomore.