Tyr - Valkyrja (Metal Blade)

It shines, it glitters, it excites...
Release Date: 
17 Sep 2013 (All day)

And so Tyr end up on Metal Blade, surely their own Valhalla (being as it’s the home of their blood brothers Amon Amarth after all) as they continue their journey away from the murk of the underground and into the shiny, glittering world of mainstream metal.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to start some tedious ‘Tyr sells out’ campaign here; Musicians as talented as Tyr frontman/lead guitarist Heri Joensen and company surely deserve the largest audience possible in front of which to showcase their prodigious skills. But it does warrant just a word in passing that Tyr, now seven albums deep into a hopefully incredibly long and fruitful career, are now about 350 degrees away from their earliest How Far to Asgaardian roots; In short, they’ve become ‘just’ another power metal band, and that might be a sticking point for some longterm listeners when approaching this album.

F’rinstance, the longest songs here, apart from the album’s title track which closes the album proper, are the following covers of Iron Maiden’s Where Eagles Dare and Pantera’s Cemetary Gates.  A self-written Tyr song these days is more likely to be short, punchy, tuneful and to the point. There’s no room for folksy meandering in Tyr’s brave ‘new’ world.

That said, there are still some tasty ‘ancient’ morsels on offer; The two songs sung in Faroese, Grindavisan and Fanar Burtur Brandaljod for starters. The former is a stately epic, lent extra gravitas by its hymnal qualities at the chorus and, of course, it’s exotic (to the anglo ear at least) delivery, whilst the latter is a spritely double kick laden frolic through the forests that leads up to the album’s standout track, the excellent Lady of the Slain. Lady... is a thunderous, galloping rollock of a song, equipped with a lazily catchy chorus that creeps up on you stealthily but stays with you for aeons after a couple of listens.

As mentioned there are two covers here, which, despite coming at the end of the album do detract a little from the story of Valkyrja; Both are executed well musically, but both serve only to show that Joensen is better off singing material he’s written for his own voice – if you see what I mean.

Good stuff then, and in the balladic The Lay of our Love (which features a duet with Leaves' Eyes chanteuse Liv Kristine) there's even a hit single of sorts. Whatever, this is, certainly, another step in the right direction if you happen to think shiny, ballast-free, tuneful heavy metal is the right direction.  Tyr obviously do, and it’s hard to see them not getting bigger and bolder from hereon in.