The Lay Of Thrym
Who doesn't like Faroese metal stalwarts Týr? I mean really, they've been quite consistent and constantly evolving their music since their 2002 debut “How Far To Asgard”. Famous for the distinctive vocals of Heri Joensen and their excellent blend of Scandinavian folk with progressive touches, we've all been waiting for Týr's next venture after the thoroughly enjoyable “By The Light Of The Northern Star” in 2009. Now that 2011 and the new album are finally here, Týr's latest hammerblow to the metal world is being judged all around the globe. I've found that this a considerable change of pace for them, and in more ways than one.
First things first, “The Lay Of Thrym” sees Týr treading further into power metal territory more than they have in the past. Most of the songs are uptempo and rollicking tunes that once again take on the guise of silly, happy pagan music. At first I thought that “Shadow Of The Swastika” was kind of a stupid song, until I took the time to look over the lyrics. The message, while blunt and antagonistic, is not a bad one whatsoever. In general, the band's regular conceptual commitment to paganism and Vikings is strong and entertaining, if perhaps a bit short-sighted in some ways. At least the lyricism here isn't just thinly-veiled attention-fishing for more fans to jump on the pagan bandwagon like it was on “By The Light Of The Northern Star”.
Musically, this is very catchy and accessible, maybe more so than any of the band's albums to date, and it'll definitely net a few more fans for Týr without a doubt. However, for those of us who were used to and fond of this albums predecessors, tracks like “Sinklars Visa”, “Tróndur í Gøtu”, and Turið Torkilsdóttir are sadly absent here. In fact, the lush harmonization that we've heard on previous efforts has been all but forsaken on "The Lay Of Thrym", generally in favor of more straightforward work. While there's nothing wrong with excellent metal tracks like “Flames Of The Free” and “Fields Of The Fallen”, I for one miss the subtlety and beauty of these vocal-centric tracks (Yes yes, I know that they're a metal band). But that doesn't stop me (nor should it the reader) from appreciating the band's move towards higher octane metal. The music here is some of the most energetic the band has ever written, and an example to followers of how the power/folk hybrid is supposed to sound when executed properly.
One other thing that bears mentioning when it comes to Týr's music is the emotional quality of Heri Joensen's voice (or rather, the almost complete absence of it). Sure, he's got an excellent knack for this rough-edged Viking material, and especially when singing in his native Faroese, but he really only has a couple of settings when he's singing without backing: loud and aggressive or soft and tentative. Perhaps that's why I find the overall song selection a bit weaker on “The Lay Of Thrym”, as the vocals are more often Heri singing solo, and the rarely-changing timbre can become a bit grinding. While I generally prefer faster tracks, Týr has historically been so good at adding color to their albums with great vocal harmonization (not just in the choruses of some songs) and varying of speeds, and I just don't see it happening here.
Technicalities, mostly, are the order of the day for complaints here, since it's really a stomping good time the whole way through. “The Lay Of Thrym” is a bit of a departure from the band's norms, but it's a high energy toss of the axe that anyone into the band is bound to enjoy. I recommend this highly, with the caveat that you'll hear the band's folky and progressive side fading a bit. Regardless, this is an album that any fan of folk, power, prog, (or anything in between) will find to be a great deal of fun.
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The Protagonist's Rating: 3.75 out of 5