Aspera Hiems Symfonia is the debut studio album by the Norwegianavant-garde metal band Arcturus. This was the only black metal album Arcturus released, though it still contains many of the experimental elements that are seen in their following albums, which shifted into the genres of avant-garde and progressive metal. Four songs are re-recorded versions of the ConstellationEP and the other four are new songs.
The album title is in Latin and means "harsh winter's symphony". The music is relatively down-tempo, atmospheric black metal, much more restrained in character and lyrical content than major black metal acts such as Mayhem and Darkthrone. It has a somewhat lo-fi, abraded or tinny sound to the production. The lyrical themes revolve around nature, winter, astronomy and Viking culture and mythology.
In 2002, the album was remastered, along with previous releases Constellation and My Angel as Aspera Hiems Symfonia/Constellation/My Angel. The remaster has a considerably stronger, clearer sound that restores many of the lower-frequency elements of the music lost in the original mastering. Although Arcturus claims nothing was re-recorded, some vocal and instrumental sections are considerably clearer and were likely either re-recorded or spliced in from alternate takes of the material, such as the solo at the beginning of "The Bodkin and the Quietus" and the clean vocal lines on "Wintry Grey".