Pick Your Rock and Metal

Thursday, October 03, 2013

From whence came the force of Tyr with Valkyrja

ADD a dash of Viking metal, sprinkle a smattering of Euro-power metal, mix in a dab of battle metal and finally knead through with a portion of folk metal and you'll have something close to Tyr's new release of Valkyrja; but not close enough to really get this release from the Faroe Island's finest rock exports.

The Faroe Islands archipelago has a tiny population or around 50,000 souls; a sovereignty of Denmark whose people are descended from Scandanavian and Scots and Norsemen who had settled around the Irish Sea. Thus our Irish, Northern Irish and Scots readers are partly to blame...

Tyr stand firmly as a reminder of the Viking heritage of the Faroe Islands; despite a history dominated by Christianity from the first Irish monks that landed there through to more recent settlements of Plymouth Brethern and the arrival in the 70s of Charismatic churches.

And it is from the Scandanavian and Norse myths that Tyr return to in each release; and this time it is the dichotomous relationship the warriors of old have with women that comes under the spotlight.

Valkyrja is an album tied together with the loose theme of how women affect men, but that's not to say that Tyr have 'pussied' out.

Trademark intense riffing merged with rampant solos and a nod towards folk rhythms in choruses this release is a high water mark for the band. Unlike many of their compatriots delving into the Norse mythos the vocals are clean and at times haunting.

From opener - and single release - Blood of Heroes through to closer Valkyrja this is a coherent and compact 11-track album held together not just by its lyrical theme, but with a musical thematic pulse.

While the first three tracks follow an almost traditional battle/folk metal thrust, Lay of Our Love's haunting balledic duet opens the doors for lyrics sang in Faroese, virtual tone poems and rampant declarations of Tyr's talent.

Founder member Henri Joensen stepped away from his axe (not that type of axe - we mean his six-string axe) and his mic to explain some of what inspired this epic tale of the warrior who leaves his 'earthly' woman to impress the Valkyrie in order that he may gain entry to the halls of Valhalla and the home of Freyja, goddess of love, sex, fertility, blood and war.

Behind the Norse theme is the age old struggles of men to impress women.

Joensen said: "The woman that the warrior leaves may represent the earthly women. Freyja, The Lady of the Slain, may represent the perfection of 'women' and the Valkyrie is the link between the two; taking men from earthly to godly women."

While careful listening (well to the majority of bits that are in English!) can reveal this tale, each track also stands alone on its merits - Another Fallen Brother and Mare of My Night being perfect examples.

Despite their humble origins in a community ravaged by economic woes due to the collapse of the fishing industry, Tyr have emerged as a band that musically straddles many stereotypes and many niche sounds that often shackle bands. Despite the Viking lyrical theme there is much here that will enthrall fans of NWBHM and folk metal, but more importantly for fans of all types of hard rock and metal.

And the clue as to why you will like this album lies in the bonus tracks on some editions of the release. The covers of Maiden's Where Eagles Dare and Pantera's Cemetary Gates. Both are relatively faithful to the original, but add flourishes to the vocals and guitar solos. This is not about re-inventing metal, but is really about adding Tyr's twist on the formula: a twist our editorial team endorse fully!

Official Video for Tyr's single Blood of Heroes from Valkyrja

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