From the moment I had first heard Faroese TÝR’s album “Eric The Red” the band immediately was catapulted into my elite circle of favourite bands. Since then they have release two albums and continuously turned darker and also somewhat more progressive, thus making it a little harder to get into their sound, nevertheless I’ve been looking forward to their latest strike “By The Light Of The Northern Star” like few other albums this year and boy, was I in for a surprise!
Fully expecting a continuation of what the past two albums had already heralded, the opener “Hold The Heathen Hammer High” almost took my head off, because this is upbeat, energetic, fast, with this irresistible melody and the ultimate sing-along chorus, infused with some of the more melancholic and slower passages that we’ve come to know of them, this is a hymn that can run with the best of them, brilliant start and somewhat of a resurrection of the sound that I had fallen in love with, while not forgetting the evolution of the past few years either. A hard act to follow, but epic “Tróndur Í Gřtu” tones down a little, but still keeps things grand and catchy, maintaining a remarkably high level.
The probably biggest difference compared to “Land” is that almost the whole album is faster, straighter, more direct, yet still distinctly TÝR, not least thanks to the Faroese lyrics in some songs, Heri’s characteristic vocals and the choirs, so anybody who may have been less enthused about the musical orientation of the Faroese warriors over the last two albums, should definitely be able to fall back in love with the music and it doesn’t really matter which track you’d try, as all of them are between very good and outstanding, the faster tracks such as “Northern Gate” as well as the more playful once in the style of “Ride”, and the hymnic wide screen epics such as “Hear The Heathen Call” that know when to hammer out the double-bass and when to go full choir or the sweeping title track that can power a dragon ship all on its own are what put the quartet on the map.
Although I have enjoyed “Land” as well, “By The Light Of The Northern Star” is a step back in time, but no regression, as the energy and immediate catchiness is combined with the at times doomy and dark atmosphere that had crept in of late, making their fifth album the most mature and almost the best in their career. Why almost? Because “Eric The Red” still is this very special album to me, but you will not make any mistake by getting this one, because it is nothing short of an outstanding album that will be very high in this year’s top album lists, I know that it will be there in mine!
(Online July 11, 2009)