By The Light Of The Northern Star

Written by: EW on 02/06/2009 14:02:06

I suppose it must surely be a good sign that every sub- (and sub-sub-) genre of metal seems to be in bloom at the moment with many bands crowding the airwaves, and one of those stuffed to the brim right now is the Viking/pagan/folk metal genre. You could dispute their presence in such a genre given their progressive leanings but Týr belong there, and they sit very firmly at the top table at the seat designated 'Most Distinguishable Band', for when you are listening to these sons of the Faroe Islands, you know you're listening to Týr.

Having existed since 1998 Týr's name has only begun to spread internationally since the middle of this decade, from which point on they have become very productive, with "By The Light Of The Northern Star" following "Land" by just 12 months. It is this productivity in the studio and on stage combined with a sound that is technical yet melodic and extremely catchy that reads Týr as a name to be reckoned with. I read recently that mainman Heri Joensen isn't completely satisfied with "Land", which is interesting to me as I still view that as their most diverse album to date, but one can certainly view the change between that record in this one. "By The Light..." is undoubtedly the band's catchiest and most concise record thus far - the average speed has been picked up, gone are the longer more progressive songs evidenced on "Land" and in it's place is an increase, yes an increase, in the band's trademark catchy singalong vocals. It is these that make the album such a glorious listen. Like most Týr fans my favourite songs were those that formed the bulk of the live set and you'll be pleased to hear that this new is virtually full of such songs. One could argue this would get a little tiring but the spirit in which lead track "Hold The Heathen Hammer High", "Northern Gate", "Ride" and the title track (among others) roll through is so infectious and crucially, unique, each time that any pretenses of repetitiveness are forgotten and the temptation not to sing along will overcome you.

Musically Týr still mix the staccato riffing structure that has always formed their base at a slightly quicker pace than before but the highlight with this band will forever remain the vocal lines and choruses, frequently underpinned by a shadowing lead guitar that gives these sections extra oomph. Heri Joensen's vocals have cleaned up slightly and ring with genuine passion about his subject matters of Norse mythology and Faroese lore, sounding exciting even when sung in any manner of Scandinavian language such is the feeling generated on this album, as well as on stage having recently seen them there with the far inferior Alestorm. Whatever styles you profess to liking, if you're still reading this far down make sure you check out "By The Light Of The Northern Star" - this is a band at the top of their game.

Download: Hold The Heathen Hammer High, By The Light Of The Northern Star, Ride
For The Fans Of: Turisas, Falkenbach, Moonsorrow
Listen: Myspace

Release date: 01.06.09
Napalm Records

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