Only a year since the release of their fourth full-length album 'Land', Faroe Island's fast rising metallers Týr return with its successor, 'By The Light of the Northern Star'. I am somewhat dubious when bands release albums in such quick succession, suspicious that they're maybe circumstantially cashing in on a period of popularity, for Týr's popularity has most certainly increased significantly during the past couple of years, partly thanks to a successful stint on 2008's prestigious and lengthy Paganfest tour; a plethora of Summer festival appearances 2007-2008; and, of course, signing to Napalm Records in 2006. And it was their first release for said label, 'Ragnarok', that the band first came to my attention, impressed with their progressively original take on the folk metal subgenre. Last year's 'Land', although a solid album, was, at least for me, largely a sideways step in their songwriting. 'By the Light of the Northern Star', however, sees the Faroese metallers take their music to the next level, consolidating the essence of their unique metal idiom through a more immediately accessible compositional style. Gone is the grandly atmospheric intro as with 'The Beginning' on 'Ragnarok' or 'Gandkvćđi Tróndar' on 'Land'; instead, the listener is hit with full-on, hard-hitting metal from the off. While Children of Bodom seem obsessed with incorporating the word 'Bodom' in their song titles (at least one per album), it appears that Týr's fetish is for hammers. Previously we've had 'Hail to the Hammer' and 'The Hammer of Thor'; now arrives the alliterative 'Hold the Heathen Hammer High', the album's up tempo opening song with a melody that will be resonating in your head long after the track has finished. All of Týr's trademark elements are present throughout - skilful vocal harmonies; multi-lingual lyrics; inventive melodies; and a progressive sensibility that underpins the music - but here, the songs are driven by a more straightforward metal dynamic and energy. However, that is only on a surface level as subsequent listens reveal greater depth to each song with affectively engaging guitar harmonies and intelligently progressive twists that colour much of the riffing. The overall result is a more pleasingly coherent fusion piece that combines many of metal's subgenres to greater effect than ever before. With 'By the Light of the Northern Star' Týr have succeeded in producing an album of epic metal proportions that should, or at least hopefully, further boost their ever growing popularity and see the talented Faroese musicians elevated to Viking Metal's big league to compete with the likes of Amon Amarth. 'By the Light of the Northern Star' is a flawless exercise in contemporary, epic metal that has potential mass-appeal within the scene. One of the best releases this year thus far. Incredible stuff. A must-own album for any discerning metal fan.
BY THE LIGHT OF THE NORTHERN STAR
Review by Mark Holmes
1st June 2009
1) Hold the Heathen Hammer High
2) Tróndur í Gřtu
3) Into the Storm
4) Northern Gate
5) Turiđ Torkilsdóttir
6) By the Sword in My Hand
8) Hear the Heathen Call
9) By the Light of the Northern Star
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"All of Týr's trademark elements are present throughout...but here, the songs are driven by a more straightforward metal dynamic and energy."