Brymir - Wings of Fire - (9.5/10)
Published on February 26, 2019
Brymir is yet another “epic” Finnish metal band. It seems that this movement initiated by the likes of Ensiferum and Wintersun has become a genre of its own and Brymir definitely gave their best shot at it with their third full length record, “Wings of Fire”. I’ve listened to quite a number of bands that had a crack at this direction and I have no restraint in saying that Brymir is one of the best I’ve heard to do it. There are obviously a lot of influences in their style from the previously mentioned names but despite that, Brymir made their music original and exciting and gave it a whole new face. Before listening to this album I had only heard a couple of songs and thought I had a pretty clear idea of their sound as giving that majestic orchestral vibe I really crave. While that is true, it is also critically incomplete.
What I think gives Brymir a unique touch is making that atmosphere slap you in the face! They blend the metal and the orchestral stuff seamlessly but with most of the songs they don’t bother to push it too much over the top or make it extra pretentious. The majority of this album is composed of 3 to 4 minute long bullets of energy. While they may fiddle with some clean guitar, folk and symphonic elements to build atmosphere, they never dwell on it and you will soon feel that massive oomph hit you in the gut. When the drums, bass, guitars, growls and orchestral percussion all crash down upon you, you will be hooked! The drums wander through various levels of insanity from continuous grinding blast beats to dynamic power metal styles and massive head-banging parts and the bass comes through with a lot of depth. What they did is force the brutal into the epic. Because on top of that come groovy, fast picking riffs, soaring guitar melodies, shredding solos and duels that will tear a hole through time. The choirs then elevate it to a stellar dimension. Each song spreads your brains all over the walls and then ends before you know what hit you. And before you can even regain your composure you gotta brace for impact yet again. It’s got an unstoppable driving force that comes at you over and over with the same power but always a slightly different approach on expression. Just for the sake of examples, “Gloria in Regum” and “Ride on, Spirit” are majestic and uplifting. The title track has a marching feel that makes it sound like battle music. Sphere of Halcyon is evil and Starportal just might sever the connection between your head and body.
Production-wise, it is also a monster. The mix is very clean and gives a really thick sound, both brutal and refined. It’s got the raw power but also some really processed sci-fi synth oriented effects and keyboards that put the personality of the album somewhere in between Odin’s beard and the Artificial Intelligence uprising. That epic but technical substance also comes from the vocals. While the raspy “call to battle” screaming really reminds me of Jouni Valjaka from Whispered, there’s also this really deep voice that would fit somewhere between low growls and spoken word and also has a subtle robotic touch. It’s just unreal!
Half way into the album I started to have a few doubts though. Maybe it was getting too repetitive in some way. I mean… how many blows can you take? Well they thought about that too because after surviving eight of these insane songs, Brymir decided that their wild beast should have a soul. With the last three songs on the album they take a turn for the more emotional and melodic side, pacing the tempo down just a little bit and letting some epic melodies shine through. And while “Lament of the Ravenous” and “Chasing the Skyline” did a very good job at painting a heart on that insanity that raged throughout the record, it is the album closer, “Anew”, that tied all my previous thoughts into a knot. This one has no growls, just an alternation between low spoken word and the amazing guest vocals of Noora Louhimo from Battle Beast, all bathed in an immersive, celestial atmosphere. This one has you floating in the stars and closes the record with the only element it was missing. What Brymir created here is an absolute juggernaut of an album that will build you up, tear you down, juggle with your senses and take you to places you can’t imagine. If the words “Finnish Metal” have any meaning to you, you have to hear “Wings of Fire”. Now!