Last updated on 24 November 2020
It is true. These guys have an ego bigger than the tiny Faroe Islands, where they hail from. The swagger they deliver their fare with continues to astonish me. But what can you do, when warrior blood flows in your veins.
Hel, the newest record of Tyr, feels, as if the beer-swirling folks of Alestorm moved North, and grew some muscle and real beards. And Amon Amarth should be ashamed of themselves, they just got keelhauled by some trve vikings. Or at least by the remnants of the descendants, or something.
Or is it that Tyr worship Hel from Niflheim this time, that desolate and cold place? That’s quite a dire theme these island metallers chose for their newest album.
This is where the feasting halls of Valhalla stay firmly closed, and you get a dish called ‘hunger’ and knife called ‘famine’. Too bad that you died without a sword in your hand, and now you must endure this kind of tribulation.
So, you see, even the Old Gods dished out harsh punishments to their followers. Or to those they did not value. But at least you could have some fun whilst you lived, until the Nailed God arrived on the scene, and sucked all that merriness out of everyone.
Yet, Hel truly gorges with lusty chants, bellowed into Helheim in a somewhat warlike fashion that I have not seen a lot over time. Their tune sometimes sounds like the folks from Incursed with their similar manly sound. And an appetite for group chanting, but on a setting of Folk and Power Metal.
Only that Tyr already exist since 1998 with an impressive discography under their belt (which the former don’t have). And that this band sports a pretty hefty mix between Heavy Metal and Thrash Metal with a pagan tinge. At speeds that border on Power Metal.
So, in a sense, I agree with the voices that say that ’tis no Folk Metal. More of a sturdy metal stew, with a liking to pagan rites and old Norse gods. Which is a fine foundation, come to think of it. It is a little bit like the savvy song writing of Arrayan Path got a Heavy and Thrash Metal overhaul and moved North. In wooden viking ships.
Now, the new length and make of the songs on Hel comes across as a bit swampy at times. The delivery indeed lost a lot of the laser-precision that Valkyrja had to give in spades. Also, the whole air time of the record appears way too long. Where – as is often the case – a severe culling of tracks would have produced something even sturdier, and of much better quality.
Yet, it is not all belting and screaming about the deck neither.
You’ll also get folksier offerings like Ragnars Kvæði that kind of defy the more boisterous tracks on the record. Like – in contrast – Garmr, that peppery tale about the hellhound guarding the entrance of the realm.
In truth, this bursting-at-the-seams energy thing always somewhat confuses me. Helheim is not a nice place. But the Mead swirling chants on this record more give an impression of feasting in halls, and happy evenings by the roaring fire in Valhalla. Much more than famine and cold that awaits the unlucky soul sent there.
But whatever the case may be, tracks like Far From The Worries Of The World with its upbeat drive shows these rogue metallers from far away islands on a roll. You may want it or not, but the rusty belting on all of them tracks just pulls you along in their wake.
Then again, Tyr shine with jewels like Fire and Flame that dazzles with this finger-shredding solo kind of at 3/4 along the road. One that appears to step straight out of something that Arch Enemy committed. This is – by the way – not the only track with a stellar solo, the one on All Heroes Fall really got on my good side, too.
In truth, the record relentlessly speeds along right from the first track Gates of Hell. And never settles for anything less than full speed ahead, before the wind, dragonheads set to pass the message along. To ravage these cold lands in front of you in best Viking fashion.
Finally, Hel delivers an album that is fun to listen to, and – at the same time – difficult to classify. And this is why it got on our good side from the get go. Tyr really light a mighty fire in that cold place called Helheim. And roar forward with an energy that continues to astonish me.
The band did not really invent anything new, but truly added some additional spice and energy to their tune. And – in turn – produced a worthy successor to the already remarkable Valkyrja of 2013. All this, after some pretty serious changes in line-up that did not really have any negative impact on this new album.
Now, raise your horns and enjoy some of that excellent roasted meat to go with the juicy tune Tyr is offering, whilst you still can. Because it ain’t gonna last, Hel is beckoning you.
Ed’s note: Did you know that Heri Joensen also has a softer side? No? Check this out.