Released: 2013, Metal Blade Records
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team
Raise the drinking horns and call homage to the old gods. Folk metal band Tyr are back with their seventh studio album, Valkyrja. Continuing with the Viking theme, Valkyrja were the choosers of the slain, a host of female figures that pick the soldiers who will die in battle and rise to Valhalla, leaving the other half to pass to Folkyangr governed by Freyja. The title of the album serves as a premise for story running through it. Tyr sing of a Viking warrior leaving his wife to attempt to impress the Valkyrjas in battle so he may pass to either Valhalla or Folkyangr, leaving his earthly wife for the godly women in the afterlife. Joensen states that this could also represent the lengths that men will go to obtain a woman.
The Faroe Islands north of Scotland are a small group of islands known for their wet and windy weather. Rolling mists and jagged cliffs make this a grim but hauntingly beautiful landscape. Despite the gloomy weather, Nordic metal quartet Tyr are battling against this, drawing from their heritage and the traditional folk music from their island. Being so isolated has left this an insular place, retaining large remnants of the old Nordic language and music. Although they choose to sing in English, Joensen places strong emphasis on how they choose original melodies from their ancestry, integrating that into their sound.
Tyr has developed a reputation for straying into a slightly cheesy end of folk metal. Leaning more towards the folk melodies while backing it up with a good dose of heavy metal. This album pulls it back though. Compared to older tracks like ‘Raise the Heathen Hammer High,’ this music is rooted in metal, leaving the folk melodies largely to Joensen’s vocals for large sections of the album.
Opening the album with the mammoth thrash riff in Blood of the Heroes the album begins as it intends to continue. Maintaining it’s usual upbeat speed it injects the added doses of thrash that dominate the sound of the first half, broken only by The Lay of our Love which is a melodic power ballad with Kristine of Leaves Eyes. The second half of the album moves back into the older style with drawn out epic guitar passages. Lady of the Slain is perhaps the perfect balance between the two, combining the heavier trash style with lashings of power metal weaving through.
From beginning to end this album is filled with Tyr’s usual catchy melodies, and the work they have put into this is obvious, compiling a polished performance. The problem with this album… it’s almost too polished. Hints of auto-tune rise above passages drowning in reverb. Despite it being packed with energy, it lacks the rawness that comes with easing back on the mixing.
Combined with the new style, this makes this album an entirely new beast while still resembling much of the old traits. Despite all the flaws, this album shows that these guys are still warriors of folk metal.
Review by: Caitlin Smith