• TYR

     

    Reviewed by: Sebastian Kluth

    Let’s take a look on the career of the progressive folk metal band, and the most popular musical output of the Faroe Islands: Týr.

    How Far To Asgaard (2002)

    Four years after their foundation, the band concretely comes to life with this doom-influenced debut record. Nightmarish feelings, epic song writing, and haunting melodic vocals are its upsides, while there is still too much repetition and too much length throughout many tracks. Highlights: “Excavation”, “The Rune”, “Sand In The Wind”. Rating: 4.0/5

    Eric The Red (2003)

    The follow-up to How Far To Asgaard sounds much more diverse, and includes not only more folk influences, but also more heavy and power metal passages. This record mixes short, energizing tracks with epic and twisted tunes on a well-balanced level. Highlights: “Olavur Riddaros”, “Alive”, “Eric The Red”. Rating: 4.75/5

    Ragnarok (2006)

    The band’s third album heads in a more progressive and cinematic direction. This release includes eighteen tracks, eight of which are instrumental songs. The concept of this release is intellectually challenging and requests multiple listening experiences. It’s recommended to closely follow the lyrics in order to deepr understand this well thought-out album. It includes many complex tracks with dynamic changes, but also more laid back folk-driven acoustic passages. The record is rather hard to approach, and not always easy to digest with its running time of far over an hour, but patient listeners will be rewarded. Highlights: “Brother’s Bane”, “Wings Of Time”, “Lord Of Lies”. Rating: 4.5/5

    Land (2008)

    This record is even more progressive and features many intriguing elements. One can hear a lot of diversified instrumentation: cello, viola, and violin give many songs a cinematic touch. The band goes partially back to its doom metal roots, but also includes some thrashy passages. The lyrics are mostly in Faroese this time, and lend the release an exotic touch. Despite this big creative input, the record includes too many slow and mid tempo tracks, too many instrumental passages, and the songs are generally too long. Highlights: “Gandkvaedi Trondar”, “Sinklars Visa”, “Brennivin”. Rating: 3.25/5

    By The Light Of The Northern Star (2009)

    The band returns to a more accessible sound, somewhere between folk and power metal, on this release. A few tracks also head for the energizing reaches of thrash. By The Light Of The Northern Star features many heroic anthems and catchy songs that sometimes even remind of Manowar. On the other hand, it gets a little bit repetitive after a while, and fails to truly surprise. Some of the instrumental work goes nowhere, and the record falls flat after a solid start. Highlights: “Hold The Heathen Hammer High”, “Trondur I Gotu”, “By The Sword In My Hand”. Rating: 3.75/5

    The Lay Of Thrym (2011)

    Týr continues to tap the heavy and power metal vein that the band was searching for on the last record. As a result, most of the songs are rather short and quite catchy. This time, the band includes a few very welcome changes in the form of solid ballads, epic folk anthems, and elaborate progressive tracks. Not every song works perfectly, but the album is a diversified grower that is worth your attention. Highlights: “Shadow Of The Swastika”, “Konning Hans”, “The Lay Of Thrym”. Rating: 4.25/5

     

    March 1, 2013 in Reviews

    Tyr-How Far To Asgaard

     Týr
    How Far To Asgaard
    2002
    Reviewed by Sebastian Kluth

    Four years after its original foundation was cast, the progressive folk metal band Týr truly came to life with its first release How Far To Asgaard. Instead of the more power metal-influenced records that would follow, the band’s first strike is clearly influenced by doom. The eight songs, plus a Faroese poem that works as a hidden track, are characterized by epic-feeling song writing at a slower, mid-tempo pace. The songs have an average length of around seven minutes, which can get quite long after a while.

    All songs feature a fairly dark atmosphere that is carried by somewhat simplistic but efficient instrumental work, and especially by the band’s first singer Pól Arni Holm. His performance is haunting, and he has a very melodic voice that creates well needed hooks in an otherwise somewhat inaccessible record. The opener “Hail To The Hammer” is such an example. Overall, the tone of the vocals is epic and longing. They slightly remind me of Pasi Koskinen, who once was involved in Amorphis. On the other side, a melodic version of Jari Mäenpää (Ensiferum/Wintersun) also comes to my mind. At some points, these vocals might also please those who prefer the calmer, down to earth passages of Blind Guardian’s Hansi Kürsch or the young James Hetfield of Metallica fame. This all means that Holm is quite diversified and does a decent job, but somewhat lacks his own identity. Sadly, this record is his only one with the band. I would have liked to hear more from him and see if he had been able to develop his own distinct style.

    The negative part of How Far To Asgaard lies in its overlong song structures and its lack of diversity towards the end. The instrumental work is technically decent and atmospherically convincing, but it all becomes a little bland after a while. Many tracks have unnecessary lengths that lead to dull repetition (as in “God Of War” for example).

    The highlights of this record can be found primarily in the first half. First of all, there is the quite catchy opener, “Hail To The Hammer”. Then follows the strong doom hymn “Excavation” that convinces with a few slow melodic guitar solos and a very vivid vocal performance. “The Rune” is slightly faster and moves more towards heavy metal stylings with vintage twin guitar parts and a strong old school NWOBHM feeling. The transcending and calm parts of the song call to mind psychedelic and progressive rock influences, and show the potpourri of great ideas that the Faroese already have on their side. The following “Ten Wild Dogs” is even more experimental, but goes a little too far. The track feels like a psychedelic drug trip, and is probably the weirdest song the band has written to date. That’s why it’s so addicting, and a pleasure to rediscover this song over and over again, even though it’s quite a rough ride each time.

    In the end, the most famous metal band of the Faroe Islands is already showing its talent on this debut. Even though some songs are overlong or hard to digest, there is no filler material on here. The record even turns out to be quite a grower after a while, even if the second half of the record can’t keep up with the first three songs. Fans of folk or power metal ought to be careful and give this release several spins before purchasing it. However, this album should rather please progressive doom fans that appreciate atmospheric music with an old school touch. If I had to describe this release in one sentence, I would do so as follows: A dark, doom metal version of Metallica with psychedelic moments.

    4.0 // 5

    March 25, 2013 in Artist RewindReviews

    tyr_ericthered

    Týr
    Eric The Red
    2003
    Reviewed by Sebastian Kluth

    Only one year after the promising debut record How Far To Asgard, the authentic Faroese viking metal band Týr follows up with an album about the legendary Eric The Red, along with other famous figures and events in viking history. After a few line-up changes, guitarist Heri Joensen takes charge of the new vocal duties. In general, many front men and women have some troubles with playing an instrument and singing at the same time, but Heri Joensen does a quite convincing job both live and in the studio. His vocals are more melodic and joyful, but are just as powerful as those on the band’s first output, and should please a larger crowd.

    The second output is quite different from the band’s first strike. There are still some doomy moments on the album, but they are transitionally replaced by power and heavy metal influences without losing that atmospheric and epic touch that made the first work such a promising debut. The songs still have a slower pace than is traditional for heavy, power, and prog, though not as much as previously, and some are even situated on an upper mid tempo level. Simply put, the band just sounds  more diverse than before. The bass guitar and the drums also play a more important role, the guitar solos have become more emotional, and the technical skills are also slightly (but noticeably) improved in only one year between both releases. Just listen to the highly diversified album highlight “Alive” or the epic title track “Eric The Red”, and you will immediately hear the difference.

    Some considerable changes have occurred here. Most noticeably, the new folk influences and increased Faroese lyrics that are performed with enthusiasm, as in the dark “Ólavur Riddararós”. These changes take some time to digest, but might rather please fans of the first release. The truly majestic anthem “Stýrisvølurin” really helps give this album a fresh, and at the same time, historical identity. While the first release had its lengths and became a little bit redundant after a while, this album is much more even, though we have once again, a quite long running time (around one hour) with only ten tracks.

    Add to this length that almost all songs have an anthemic approach with catchy choruses and majestic choirs (like “Hail To The Hammer” from the debut), and you’ve got a rather grand affair. Immediately, the opening “The Edge” comes quite close to that song in terms of catchy sing-along passages, despite a length of almost eight minutes. Faroese-sung songs like “Regin Smiður” and “Ramund Hin Unge”, which begin with dreamy folk parts and become energizing, anthemic tracks with catchy hooks and melodic guitar solos represent this new, catchier approach of the band quite well. This is where the band easily surpasses most bands that regularly touch on the topics of viking culture and legacy in terms of authenticity, diversity, and sheer grandiosity. These guys don’t just talk about vikings, they sing it in the right language, are inspired by actual historical events, and rehash some famous folk melodies and texts on this release as well. In comparison to other bands, these Faroese skip the stereotypical approaches and teach all the Amon Amarths of the world how to do things right.

    In the end, Týr takes a big step forward with this release. Eric The Red moves away from the band’s doom metal roots and introduces new folk and heavy metal elements. The band finds just the right mixture of shorter, catchier songs and progressive epics that never get redundant. I would even go as far to say that the band’s second album is their greatest to date. It’s probably one of the best releases of its increasingly popular genre. Any viking metal fan should call this record her or his own. Anybody who has only read about this band before but never found the time to check them out should immediately go for this most essential release, and surely won’t regret it.

    4.75 // 5

     

    September 19, 2013 in Artist RewindReviews

    Tyr-ValkyrjaTýr - Valkyrja (2013)

    Reviewed by Sebastian Kluth

    Týr returns with their most consistent release ever this year, that features some of the band’s catchiest, shortest, and most versatile pieces ever. Most folk elements have gone and the album includes only two tracks with Faroese lyrics, but the record still sounds one hundred percent like Týr. What we can hear here is a vivid heavy metal album with great guitar work, better vocals than ever, and balanced song writing.

     

    The album opens without any lengthy introductions and delivers a classic-sounding heavy metal track with “Blood Of Heroes”. This melodic mid- to up-tempo number could have come from a band like Iron Maiden, except for the epic, melancholic, and unique vocals that make this a typical Týr track that any fan of the band will recognize. The song just has the right length and is catchy enough as an opener. “Mare Of My Night” is just as appealing. It features a great melodic guitar sound, while the verses are more riff driven. The vocals are even more varied, soft, and melodic than usual. In general, the vocal performance on this album is maybe the very best of the band’s career.

    The album’s first really outstanding and surprising song is the half-ballad “The Lay Of Love”, which features the melodic and versatile vocals of Leaves’ Eyes’ Norwegian singer Liv Kristine (who, incidentally, is the wife of Atrocity’s German frontman Alexander Krull). Usually, I’m not the biggest fan of her high-pitched and sometimes thin vocals, but she just sounds fine here and doesn’t take too much space. The darker and grounded melodic vocals of Heri Joensen sound very natural, and both singers harmonize very well together. Fans might argue that this song is a commercial sellout, but who cares if it features stunning guitar melodies and emotional vocals by two great singers like this?

    Other highlights on the record include the epic anthem “Nation”, that features some of the album’s most emotional guitar solos, the faster and vivid heavy/thrash metal anthem “Another Fallen Brother” (which is one of the record’s catchiest efforts), and especially the sacral arrangements and majestic choirs in the epic melodic heavy/doom hymn with Faroese lyrics called “Grindavisan”. This song has a lot of potential and is maybe my favorite track on here.

    And then there are the bonus tracks. I must admit that despite being a huge Iron Maiden fan, I never really appreciated “Where Eagles Dare” that much because I think that the middle part drags on for far too long. But I immediately fell in love with Týr’s take on the song. I couldn’t stop clicking the repeat button the first time I played the album. The track is close to the original, but has a slightly darker atmosphere. Despite being quite heavy, Heri Joensen’s uniquely mechanical yet melodic vocals add a completely new epic and slightly doom-driven touch to the track. The song sounds like Iron Maiden, but it also perfectly sounds like a regular Týr track. If you didn’t know the song, you wouldn’t even recognize it’s not a song from the band. I must admit that this is one of the very rare cases where the cover version is better than the original. The other cover on the limited editions is Pantera’s “Cemetary Gates” and it’s also at least on the same level as the original. It probably depends whether you prefer the technically more limited, but also more aggressive and raw original vocals, or the slightly more melodic and technically appealing vocals of this cover. Personally, I have to stick with Týr’s version for the reasons cited above, but I’m aware of the fact that Pantera fanboys might feel as upset as some Iron Maiden fans about my opinion.

    In the end, Týr has delivered their most entertaining record to date. I still prefer the epic masterpiece Eric The Red and its amazing successor Ragnarok, but I would put this album in third place. Valkyrja includes more focused, diverse, and catchy song writing than the band’s previous efforts. The difficult and sometimes overambitious ten minute epics are gone, and shorter but straighter tracks that are easier to digest have taken their place. This record includes no stinkers, and after a couple of spins it has already grown on me. Fans of the band and those who would finally like to get in touch with the Faroese legends have now got a highly recommendable new record.

    4,25 // 5

     

     

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