Artist: Tyr 
   Title: By The Light Of The Northern Star
   Label: Napalm Records

This is the third full album from the Faroe Island’s only metal export, Tyr and their sound is continuing to evolve from quite a slow, riff-based, almost doom approach to a more upbeat, power-metal sound. Opening track ‘Hold the Heathen Hammer High’ is as fast-paced as Tyr have ever gotten and brings to minds bands like Hammerfall with its call-to-arms style chorus. The song really sets the tone for the rest of the album with the central theme being the Christianization of the Faroe Islands back in 999 A.D. and with lines like “Heathen heart, Pagan pride ... Hold the heathen hammer high” the band leave little doubt as to which side of the fence they sit.

Tyr are very proud of their heritage and as well basing their songs on Faroese and Norwegian lore, they chose to produce the album on native soil and often sing in their mother tongue, as is the case with the track ‘Trondur I Gotu’ which pays tribute to the famous Faroese Viking and his struggle against Christendom. This may seem somewhat over the top to some but it really does work – the combination of old-school heavy metal and traditional Faroese Viking melodies and chants fits perfectly and it’s hard not to respect and identify with a band who simply just want to tell the often forgotten stories of their ancestry.

One could even draw similarities with Iron Maiden and the way in which tales from British history have so often been included in their song writing (just check out the song ‘Northern Gate’ for a chorus that bears more than a slight resemblance to Maiden’s ‘The Trooper’) and while Iron Maiden have become synonymous in the metal world with our fair island and are quintessentially British, Tyr are quintessentially Nordic (have a listen to the traditional Nordic chanting style in which the vocals are delivered on ‘By the Sword in my Hand’ and ‘Ride’)

One thing that the listener really notices however, is the improvement in musicianship from Tyr’s previous albums. Not that those albums were bad in any way, but on ‘...Northern Star’ they sound much tighter, the solos and the drumming are faster and more intricate than they were before, and while the straight-ahead riffing of their previous records is still present, there’s much more going on here musically than before which will no doubt draw in many new fans and converts to the band. Tyr have done very well here to strike a good balance between appealing to both fans of Viking metal as well as metal fans in general who, will find plenty to like here even if the whole Viking thing isn’t usually for them as, unlike many of Tyr’s contemporaries, there isn’t an overkill of folk-metal influences present. All in all, this is a classic mix of the contemporary present with the mythological past that should further cement Tyr’s reputation as one of the top names in pagan/folk metal.

Best Tracks – ‘Hold the Heathen Hammer High’, ‘By the Sword in my Hand’

Review by: Adam G  

Tracklisting:

01. Hold The Heathen Hammer High
02. Trondur I Gotu
03. Into The Storm
04. Northern Gate
05. Turid Torkuilsdottir
06. By The Sword In My Hand
07. Ride
08. Hear The Heathen Call
09. By The Light Of The Northern Star
10. The Northern Lights
11. Anthem

                   

 

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