With a sold-out Fibbers already crammed with metallers and Vikings (well, metallers in quasi-Viking attire), Scottish black metallers Maelstrom kick off the night. Their music seemingly does little to enthuse the capacity crowd as most stand and watch motionless and disinterested. Apart from a scattering of innovative elements, their songs are fairly generic and unengaging with quite effective snarled vocals but some truly shocking clean singing. With the added visual (dis)interest of most members opting for the pseudo-sophisticated post-Akercocke shirt/tie garb, and the band's frontman resembling a man who's just finished a busy day at the office, it's highly unlikely Maelstrom will gain any new converts tonight. Distinctly average.
Saturday 18th February 2012
Fibbers in York, UK
Reviews by Mark Holmes
Following the bland, heard-it-all-before-only-much-better black metal offered up by the openers, Ravenage arrive on stage to inject a bit of life into the party. Billing themselves as "epic, folk, symphonic, melodic death metal", that rather appositely sums up their approach. And it's high energy all the way with frontman Glyn The Heralder (!?!), resembling a chunkier Martin Walkyier in physique (at least from a distance) and growlier in vocal delivery, leading his band through an enjoyable set that's well received by the Fibbers audience. With a nice sound through the PA, they are generally tight in delivery (if a little rough around the edges at times), and set the atmosphere well ahead of tonight's headliners.
In existence for over a decade, despite occasional UK festival appearances and support slots, tonight marks the occasion of Týr's first ever headline show on these shores to close York's annual Jorvik Viking Festival. And it's been a long-anticipated one based on the fact that tickets were sold out in advance of this evening, and the discernible buzz in Fibbers ahead of their appearance. Not long after 9pm, as lights in the venue dim, fans ubiquitously erupt into a cacophony of loud cheers as band members walk out, looking noticeably pleased with such an enthusiastic reception. Commencing with 'The Lay of Thrym', the title track from their latest album, everything unfortunately sounds a little muffled and damp through the PA. However, the audience don't allow this to dampen their own enjoyment as fists punch the air, bodies jump up and down en masse and many can be heard singing along. Kudos to the sound guy too as by the second song, 'Shadow of the Swastika', everything sounds much more resonant, crisp and well mixed.
With a ninety minute set, twice as long as any Týr have played in the UK previously, they generally eschew the more progressive numbers from their back catalogue and the bias (two thirds of what they play) is towards the latest and last albums. It's kind of an acknowledgement and realisation that the change in direction on 'The Lay of Thrym' and 'By the Light of the Northern Star' into a more accessible song structure dynamic is efficacious and apt for the live stage. Admirably, they haven't sacrificed established Týr idioms in favour of accessibility; rather their compositions are a little less complex than on previous albums. And tonight is evidence that this has been a wise move as people lap up every bar of music they play in a set characterised by relentless metal merriment. 'Ragnarok' track 'Wings of Time' appears quite early in the set to please long-time fans of the band which is swiftly followed by perennial favourite 'Hail to the Hammer' from their 2002 debut but, interestingly, it's the next song, the more recent 'Tróndur í Gřtu', which really sends the crowd into frenzied mass movement. Older material such as 'Regin Smiđur', 'The Wild Rover', and sole 'Land' track played tonight, 'Sinklars Visa', are also well received but the newer stuff such as 'Evening Star', 'Take Your Tyrant', 'Northern Gate' and pre-encore set closer 'Hall of Freedom' provokes the greater reaction.
Encore airings of 'Ramund Hin Unge', 'Hold the Heathen Hammer High' and 'By the Sword in My Hand' provide the Fibbers crowd with three final opportunities to expel bursts of energy, with the latter two engendering mass sing-alongs. As Týr take bows to rapturous applause from an appreciative audience, many of whom seemed to have travelled from afar for the occasion, everyone departs the venue with beaming grins, undoubtedly a combination of beer (which was bizarrely served in glass bottles by the venue) and top quality metal. Let's hope Týr return to the UK for a full headline tour in the not too distant future for the signs are more than positive after tonight so promoters take note!