Many a year has passed since the seafaring Vikings set sail in their longships to explore the world. During the Viking age the reach of the Scandinavian people extended to all corners of northern Europe, and many other nations found the Vikings storming their shores. Upon these raid stories Vikings would be perceived as blood thirsty killers with no regard for religion, but history has showed this to be false. The Vikings worshipped many gods, especially the Allfather of gods, Odin, ruler of Asgard, home world to the gods. Over time old Norse customs faded away after the Vikings converted to Christianity, however over generations the Norse mythology has been kept alive through books, film and music. Týr, taking their name from the Norse god of law and justice, is a Viking folk metal band from the Faroe Islands. They are keeping the Norse traditions viable, and their latest album, “Valkyrja,” is an adventure into Viking lore.
“Valkyrja” is a concept record based on the story of a nameless warrior who leaves his woman to travel to distant lands for the glory of battle, and to one day gain the attention of the Valkyrie, the chooser of the slain. She decides which of the soldiers will die in battle and who will live.The Valkyrie then proceeds to bring the chosen to either Fólkvangr, home to Freyja, the goddess associated with love, beauty, gold, sorcery, war and death, or to Valhalla, a majestic hall located in Asgard, home to Odin.
Musically, the album is excellent. It all started with me hearing the tremendous twin guitar attack of Heri Joensen and Terji Skibenæs. They tear through this album with melodic riffs, towering solos and thrashy rhythms. Their skills are on display when listening to such tracks as ‘Blood of Heroes,’ ‘Another Fallen Brother’ and ‘Lady of the Slain.’ On many albums of the Viking metal genre the vocals consist of deep growls, but Heri Joensen‘s vocals are squeaky clean, which creates catchy choruses and chants. I found myself humming along to ‘Hel Hath No Fury’ and the Faroese native tongue tracks, ‘Fánar Burtur Brandaljóð’ and “Grindavísan,” while driving around in my car. The full on Viking charge does slow down for “The Lay of Our Love,” an enjoyable ballad with guest vocalist Liv Kristine of the band Leaves’ Eyes.
Sadly, earlier this year the band announced that they had parted ways with drummer Kári Streymoy due to a back injury. The band recruited one of my all time favorite metal drummers, George Kollias from the band Nile. His performance throughout the album is, as always, superb! Gunnar H. Thomsen‘s bass lines are vast, but I hope in future albums they will be more prominent. The album ends with covers of Iron Maiden‘s ‘Where Eagles Dare’ and Pantera‘s ‘Cemetery Gates.’ While I was really headbanging to the Maiden cover, I felt like the tempo was a tick slower on the Pantera cover compared to the original and that was throwing me off. I can’t leave without mentioning the amazing album art. A striking image of the Valkyrie standing amongst all of the dead warriors on the battlefield highlighted by the full moon in the background is eerie and unnerving. The art fits the story so well.
“Valkyrja” is a solid album and I enjoyed listening to the music and the story unfold. Now you’ll have to excuse me. My Michigan comrades and I are about to sail on the Great Lakes to conquer distant lands, for if we fail we will surely dine in hell.