Wednesday, November 19, 2008

TYR - Land CD review

TYR - Land CD
Napalm Records

One of the highlights for me at this year's Pagan Fest was seeing TYR for the first time. I was familiar with the Faroe Islands band's music from repeated listenings to their Ragnarok CD from 2006. At Pagan Fest TYR band leader Heri Joensen handed me a Napalm Records ad which foretold of this new release. Well it's been plenty of months since then and now here's Land. On a first listen I can tell this is not a concept album like Ragnarok. Instead it's a collection of songs or better yet, stories. One of the strengths of the Pagan Folk Metal genre is how the various bands sing tales filled with history and myth. If ever the term "Thinking Man's Metal" needed applying then it is with the bands of the Pagan Folk Metal genre, especially TYR. Another important note is that of all the bands within this now crowded genre, TYR have a sound all their own.

One signature TYR offering is the vocal styles. The songs start out singular then the chorus joins in. It's that Folk aspect which is used on Land in rousing fashion. The songs sung in their native Faroese are my favorites but there are also some sung in English and Norwegian. As always when it comes to artists in this genre. The ones who sing in their native language always sound more authentic. That's what made their Ragnarok release so great as well as their How Far To Asgard CD. This CD opens with "Gandkvaedi Trondar", which is a poem about a Faroese chieftain who fought for independence. It has an instrumental backdrop that does set the mood for what follows. Songs like "Sinklars Visa" and "Gatu Rima" are powerful bursts of Viking sagas with majestic sing along choruses. The song "Brennivin" still carries the pace along but unfortunately is not a perfect mood setting for what follows.

There are two long epics on this release. The first is "Ocean" which combines both Folk and Progressive Metal styles into it. It's a 10 minute long opus sung in English amidst the mostly instrumental overlay. The second one and the most majestic sounding of the two is the title cut. "Land" is 16 minutes and continues the musical theme of the aforementioned "Ocean". The three cuts that come in between the two epics, "Fipan Fagra", "Valkyrjan" and "Lokka Tattur", all follow the same style of the CD's first couple of numbers. The biggest surprise on Land is the closer, "Hail To The Hammer". This is a remake or extended version of the song which originally appeared on the band's How Far To Asgard CD.

This is TYR's fourth CD and if you're a fan of their previous work then you'll notice the journey they've traveled musically. Although their tried and true style is intact on Land. I can hear the Progressive quality that their music is moving towards. Although I doubt they will ever add keyboards to their sound. It just wouldn't cut it and it would be out of sync with the genre. Land is a damm good record and the people of the Faroe Islands should be proud of their native sons.


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