Tyfon’s Doom - Emperor's Path - (9/10)
Published on November 27, 2017
Lighting the fire that enriches imaginations and forges the will.
Finland is kind of an odd country metal wise. It’s a big name in the genre and it’s not hard to rattle off bands like Stratovarious, Sentenced, Children of Bodom, Behexen, and Nightwish but it has a long history of putting some really fucking weird bands. Bands like Thergothon, Skepticism, Demilich, Funcunt, and Maple Cross have given this isolated chilly domain a reputation for dwelling on the fringes of genre and its recent heavy metal output including bands like Legionnaire, Angel Sword, Mausoleum Gate, Rotor, Iron Griffin, Baltimor, and Chevalier stand apart from the usual pristine and spotless “retro” faire of today. Finland’s new wave of ancient heavy metal is raw, rough, and blunt as a sledgehammer but it is not without its own specific kind of artistry and majesty. One man war machine Tommi Varsala first caught the attention of many old school fanatics with Tyfon’s Doom’s sophomore demo, Yeth Hound, a chaotic explosion of classic metal barbarity with epic aspirations akin to Tyrant (Too Late to Pray) and Hyborian Steel. With their debut album Tyfon’s Doom have come hither to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under their snow-covered booted feet, now with the help of Rocka Rollas frontman Cedrick Forsberg handling drumming with nearly the same fury as his guitar work.
Simply put, Emperor’s Path is a cast iron gauntlet applied directly to the cranium that leaves no room for subtlety and tramples the listener immediately under a barrage of colossal pounding rhythms and soaring lead patterns that function as over-arching melodies as much as they do war cry style riffs. It is immediately uncompromising with Tommi’s unprofessional half-singing, essentially a throaty and vaguely melodic bellow lacking in any find of finesse but packing a raw earnestness that puts your average power metal squealer to shame. Every song is about as straightforward no-nonsense as it gets but in spite of their simplicity they never feel minimalist or sparse. Ced’s relentlessly hammering percussion tends to set these songs at brisk marching pace and frequently enter gallop territory, never quite accelerating to speed metal tempo. At such tempos Tommi really demonstrates his knack for syncopated rhythms marching in lockstep with thunderously loud percussion. He also has a keen ear for these colossal, driving melodies that avoid the sugariness of much of their fellow “new wave of traditional heavy metal” bands in exchange for a sound that could be interpreted as dark and brooding or violently celebratory in its maddening warlust. Sometimes those punchy power chords will drop out completely while Tommi lets his leads take over, leading to some moments that sound simply cosmic in scope and mood. In spite of this, the soloing is fairly simple but Tommi’s approach is closer to a semi 70’s expressionism that puts less emphasis on devil in the details fretboard noodling as much as wide brush strokes of humungous star-spanning melodies.
More important than their fairly simple technical talents is their goddamn infectious songwriting. From the triumphant single-note leads hovering over riffs surging like a whole regiment of war horses of opening stampede “Tyrant’s Sceptre” to the Manowar-sized fistpump-inducing march of its closing title track, the album does dip just a little in raw energy but its combative spirit never really disappears. “Endless War” sounds almost like some hymn-derived drinking song with its almost folksy jaunty lead playing, same with “The Rider from the Abandoned Town” which even features backing acoustic guitar. Yet its true mastery is in tracks like “Moonlight” with those fast power metal esque single string fast picked riffs and its cold, wintery chorus where pulpy metal muscle meets that sense of post-Dio mysticism we associate with Manilla Road and Brocas Helm. “Howling Danger” is a strong follow-up with its chunking chord progressions prior an almost Viking era Bathory style chorus. “Sea of Life” is probably the most accessible track on this album with its simple, infectious melodies that sound almost too clean for the rest of the album. The album’s sole epic, the six minute “Rising Earth” feels almost like a ballad with its semi-subdued verses (relatively subdued by their standards) and moments of surprisingly articulate fretboard work that momentarily trade strength for solemnity in a rare moment of gracefulness on an album that is otherwise a massacre.
Where some choose pop-catchiness, proggy polish, or technical velocity, Tyfon’s Doom arm themselves with tried and tested weaponry of their epic metal ancestors and a massive bombast symphonic in its intensity but formed of pure classic heavy metal craftsmanship. There’s honestly not that much to explain about why it works; it hits hard, it doesn’t take too long to do said hitting, and it leaves naught but destruction its wake. Yet if raw singing and hammerheaded playing are your thing, that’s pretty much all one would need to know if they’re going to have a good chance of enjoying this album. While it’s not going to win any awards for “innovation”, it’s nonetheless distinct in its particular take on classic heavy metal, belonging to a similar category as the aforementioned Hyborian Steel and Tyrant but differing in its less abrasive, speed metal influenced take and moving in more traditional NWOBHM derived influences for a rare mixture of melodic emphasis on titanic rhythmic onslaughts. Personally I hope to see them go for longer, more intricate tracks and see what happens when Tommi aims for bigger, more packed tracks that really allow him to take advantage of his fluid songwriting and excellent lead work. Among the best trad/power/speed releases of the year.