The soul of a people is reflected in
the God of Battle and Justice. Tyr, the only God who had enough heart to
sacrifice a hand in order to trap the wolf Fenrir. Tyr, one of the most
powerful Gods in the Norse religion, destined to perish in the Ragnarok
after a valiant battle.
to this Great God the band Tyr has dedicated its name. Coming from the
cold winter of the Faer Oer islands, Tyr are a band which in the space
of two albums managed to command respect from any metalhead worthy of
after the magnificent album Erik the Red, Tyr return with this new
album, called Ragnarok. Will it be enough to withstand the unavoidable
confrontation with the previous masterpiece of this excellent band? We
are here to discover it.
album opens with a delicate arpeggio of guitars called “The
Beginning”, in which some themes that we will listen later are already
surfacing. I like to trace the notes of what I consider the masterpiece
of this album already in this long (more than 5 minutes) introductive
track. But more on this later. Atmospheres of dark and clouds, of
ominous stillness surface in this first track (at some points
reminiscent of the soundtrack of the videogame Diablo, if anyone
change of pace with the following “The Hammer of Thor”. Immediately
the voice and style of Heri Joensen (who also plays the guitars together
with Terji Skibenæs) recalls to my mind a sort of Jon Anderson of the
prog metal. If you are a diehard fan of the symphonic progressive of the
Seventies, then this song will meet your immediate approval, as it is
strongly in the style of the first epoch Yes, and you can easily see how
greatly Tyr manages to transform a traditional Faeroese ballad in an
exceptional folk metal song.
move then to a brief instrumental track called “Envy”, with guitar
arpeggios a-la Genesis, that introduce us to the next track,
“Brother’s Bane”. This song tells us the tale of the
“betrayal” of Baldr by Hodr, his blind brother, lured by the evil
Loki to hit his beautiful brother with a spear made of mistletoe. Baldr
will die of this wound, mistletoe being the only living creature who
didn’t manage to promise to never harm Baldr. And, as the prophecies
told, the death of Baldr will start the End, the Ragnarok. Permeated of
doom, this song greatly embodies the anguish and fear after the fatal
blow has been struck. A great rhythmic section built by Gunnar H.
Thomsen on bass and Kári Streymoy on drums contributes to create a
march into the tragedy, as we close our eyes to hold the tears and
advance towards the following song, the instrumental “The Burning”,
which opens with a melody of guitar and bass harmonics on a carpet of
cymbals. But now it is time to move to Helheim and try to win back the
soul of Baldr, and so we follow this journey in “The Ride to Hel”.
Cadenced guitars march at one time with bass and drums, with cruel riffs
describing the dangerous road no living sould should undertake. Great
track even this one, not a single note out of place, not a single
then we arrive to my favourite song of this album, a traditional
Faeroese song, called “Torsteins Kvæði”. Listen to this one, let
it flow in your blood, let it accompany every single step in your day.
Let it escort your mind in a flight towards the shores of Faer Oer,
towards the glistening of chainmail, the efficacious beauty of Norwegian
swords against the Danish battelaxes, the shield walls, the silence of
the dusk in the midnight sun after a long ended war between a Norwegian
king and the Danish people. No word is enough to describe this song.
This is the radiant proof that the soul of a people is reflected in
their music. Listen to it. Thousands of times. And you will see.
we then come to the very brief “Grímur á Miðalnesi”, another old
ballad, sung in this album not by Tyr but according to the band by two
old men recorded about 10 years ago.
of Time” returns to a more “metal” approach of the album, yet with
a lot of the atmospheres you will now more than expect from such a
masterpiece. Beautiful even in its guitar soloes, “Wings of Time”
will surely be a hit in Tyr’s live performances.
then find another instrumental piece, “The Rage Of The Skullgaffer”,
but this time Tyr try their hands at classical music, with great
success, in my opinion. And the almost onyric calm of the last track
cannot prepare ourselves to the chasing rhythms and guitars of “The
Hunt”, again reminiscent of the progressive rock of the Seventies,
this time moving towards the last albums of Gentle Giant.
“Victory” the Gods finally manage to put their hands on Loki, and
they lock him under the ground, chained under a snake spilling its venom
in the eyes of the God of Trickery. His fits of pain shake the ground,
but the Ragnarok is now unavoidable. The Lord of Lies (as the title of
the following track) prepares his final vengeance.
then the fateful day comes. The army of giants and the forces of Helheim
and Niflheim march towards Asgard. Bifrost shakes, Heimdall sounds the
Gjallarhorni (this is the title of the next song) and the battle begins.
the title-track, begins with a guitar arpeggio and choirs that grow in a
metal march without losing any of its ominous aura. The end has come.
The End, as titled by the last track of this album.
What can I say? Exceptional album, a concept that I
personally love, very well expressed in music. I can’t find a major
flaw in this album, except that it is Folk Metal so some of you out
there will not like it so much. But listen to this: this is not the
usual “folk metal”; I never liked the “systematics of metal”, so
in my humble opinion Tyr’s album is Tyr’s metal. And, believe me,
youd’ better listen to this album at least once or twice. Or you will
lose one of the best releases of 2006 and maybe of the decade!