Faroe Metal heroes TYR have long outgrown their status as band from a country you didn’t even know had Metal. As the novelty factor wore off, it became clear that this band had more substance and quality than many of their contemporaries and managed to convince many naysayers of their style. Crafting a unique mix of Progressive, Power and Folk Metal, the quartet around mastermind Heri Joensen managed to distil their very own style out of it, marking them uniquely as TYR.
After a successful stint with Napalm Records, the Faroese now have signed on Metal battleship Metal Blade for their 7th album “Valkyrja” and they continue down the same route they had taken with their previous effort “The Lay of Thrym”, showing a bit more of a straighter Power Metal list, much to the chagrin of some older fans that would have hoped for a return to the darker and more progressive sounds of the likes of “Land”.
The immediate accessibility of their songs has been heralded as “selling out” or even “Pop tendencies”, but TYR never overindulge in either of the parts that make up their sound, while maintaining their very own character. Opener “Blood Of Heroes” is a fine example for this, setting out with a riff that comes straight out of the AMON AMARTH school of arsenals, leading into a powerful jackhammer of a track that culminates in a huge chorus and shows that TYR anno 2013 are in it to win it!
Where “Hel Hath No Fury” sounds like a hybrid of the past and present, “The Lay of Our Love” is a great ballad, where Heri teams up with Liv Kristine for a very traditional yet very powerful take, living off the great interplay between the two of them and the excellent balance between dreamy melodies and crunchy guitars. “Another Fallen Brother” takes on an almost Thrashy rhythm at times, adding another surprising dimension to the Faroese’s sound, combining it with a strong Power Metal influence and this almost melancholic atmosphere that TYR often have underlying. It is also a great example for the outstanding guitarwork that Heri and Terji unleash on “Valkyrja”, blowing many of their contemporaries straight out of the water.
For those who have been missing the traditional Faroese chants, lo and language, you will find what you’ve been looking for in “Grindavisan”, which offers this in a dynamic, driving and wonderfully flowing way. It’s hard not to mention every single track here, because this album is chock full of great and varied hymns that always stay immediately recognizable as TYR, but how can I not point out the straight and powerful “Lady of the Slain” or one of my personal candidates for Power Metal track of the year: “Valkyrja”. It has all the power, the soaring melodies, huge chorus and rousing spirit, got to love it!
And then the Faroese have something even more special in store for us after that, “Where Eagles Dare” by IRON MAIDEN and - and this is the special thing - another cover version. Now we do not get a lot of PANTERA covers out there, even less so “Cemetary Gates”, and TYR do an absolutely mindblowing job here, a truly fantastic cover!
Die-hard fans of the earlier material of the band might not find “Valkyrja” as smoking as the ones that have a stronger Power Metal affinity, but regardless this is one of their strongest albums to date and one of the strongest of the year as well!
(Online September 19, 2013)