I love a concept album, I love metal and I definitely love metal about Vikings. Today therefore is a very good day as Faeroese (aye, a Viking metal band not from Sweden or Finland!) warriors, Týr, are releasing their seventh album.
The album follows “a story line based loosely around a nameless Viking age warrior who leaves his woman and goes off to impress the Valkyrie on the battlefield so that she may bring him to Valhalla, or to Fólkvangr, the home of Freyja—the goddess associated with love, sexuality, beauty, fertility, gold, sorcery, war, and death.” (Taken from the official Týr facebook page). Already we have something a bit different from the usual with a romance/sexual twist to the usual hack n slash genre. They continue by saying “one can say the album is also indirectly about women and how they affect men and what men will do to impress and obtain women.”
Kicking off with a riff that’s almost reminiscent of fellow Viking fans, Amon Amarth’s Twilight of the Thunder God, Týr don’t waste a second launching into the heavy riffs. With lyrics about dining in hell, destiny and battles I’m already sold and feel my beard growing by the second.
Valkyrja is one the strongest releases from the band, and I’d be tempted to go so far as to say the best they’ve done. While the music remains that classic Týr sound, the riffs and overall tone seem brighter than before. A direction that really suits the groups music, perhaps the reason I’m calling it a highlight of their career.
Take Mare of My Night for example, whilst the riff is dark, the chorus melodies and overall tone seem much bouncier than before. Returning to the concept subject, here we can see the sexuality theme pushed with lyrics that are borderline pornographic. This breakaway from standard Viking metal tropes adds an interesting twist to the album.
They say Hell has no fury like a woman scorned, and continuing the albums theme, Hel Has No Fury covers this subject. The Lay of our Love is the proper love song though; a duet between the sexes with acoustic guitars and epic solos finds us in ballad territory. This album almost reminds me of a cowboy movie, so often the cowboy and his enemies wouldn’t be the main theme, more the love story between cowboy and sheriffs/outlaws/Native American’s daughter. As it is here, to come in to this album expecting to Hold The Heathen Hammer high may be the wrong approach.
For those worried Týr were turning soft and lovely on you though, Nation and Another Fallen Brother punch us straight back into metal land with little remorse, and later Lady of the Slain’s double kick assault and guitar gallop will bitch slap you there. Grindavisan has what I’ve been waiting for though, the big traditional folk singing, the epic chorus sound, it’s the sound that got me into Týr all those years ago and I’m happy to hear it.
Breaking away from the story and from Vikings we get a couple of bonus covers. The first, Where Eagles Dare by Maiden is fucking solid; like most people I like when bands do something unique with a cover but this is pretty much as is bar a new harmony guitar riff, but it just sounds fantastic. This could have been a Týr song without a doubt. The bonus I anticipated most though was Pantera’s Cemetery Gates as I was curious how Henri would attack the high ball busting wails at the end and by god does he go for it, I didn’t know he could pull that off. Much like the Maiden cover, they nail the song to an extent where I’m waiting on the Evile vs Týr cover war starting.
This is added to the top albums of the year for me personally. Like I said earlier, this is perhaps Týr’s best effort, and if not best, they’re most maturely written and well recorded, the stories epic seven minute closer, Valkyrja, attests to this. If you’re a Týr fan you’re going to be pretty damn happy with this release, if you’re not a Týr fan, why the fuck did you just read the last seven hundred words!