Týr – Valkyrja
Reviewed by Sebastian Kluth
Týr returns with their most consistent release ever this year, that features some of the band’s catchiest, shortest, and most versatile pieces ever. Most folk elements have gone and the album includes only two tracks with Faroese lyrics, but the record still sounds one hundred percent like Týr. What we can hear here is a vivid heavy metal album with great guitar work, better vocals than ever, and balanced song writing.
The album opens without any lengthy introductions and delivers a classic-sounding heavy metal track with “Blood Of Heroes”. This melodic mid- to up-tempo number could have come from a band like Iron Maiden, except for the epic, melancholic, and unique vocals that make this a typical Týr track that any fan of the band will recognize. The song just has the right length and is catchy enough as an opener. “Mare Of My Night” is just as appealing. It features a great melodic guitar sound, while the verses are more riff driven. The vocals are even more varied, soft, and melodic than usual. In general, the vocal performance on this album is maybe the very best of the band’s career.
The album’s first really outstanding and surprising song is the half-ballad “The Lay Of Love”, which features the melodic and versatile vocals of Leaves’ Eyes’ Norwegian singer Liv Kristine (who, incidentally, is the wife of Atrocity’s German frontman Alexander Krull). Usually, I’m not the biggest fan of her high-pitched and sometimes thin vocals, but she just sounds fine here and doesn’t take too much space. The darker and grounded melodic vocals of Heri Joensen sound very natural, and both singers harmonize very well together. Fans might argue that this song is a commercial sellout, but who cares if it features stunning guitar melodies and emotional vocals by two great singers like this?
Other highlights on the record include the epic anthem “Nation”, that features some of the album’s most emotional guitar solos, the faster and vivid heavy/thrash metal anthem “Another Fallen Brother” (which is one of the record’s catchiest efforts), and especially the sacral arrangements and majestic choirs in the epic melodic heavy/doom hymn with Faroese lyrics called “Grindavisan”. This song has a lot of potential and is maybe my favorite track on here.
And then there are the bonus tracks. I must admit that despite being a huge Iron Maiden fan, I never really appreciated “Where Eagles Dare” that much because I think that the middle part drags on for far too long. But I immediately fell in love with Týr’s take on the song. I couldn’t stop clicking the repeat button the first time I played the album. The track is close to the original, but has a slightly darker atmosphere. Despite being quite heavy, Heri Joensen’s uniquely mechanical yet melodic vocals add a completely new epic and slightly doom-driven touch to the track. The song sounds like Iron Maiden, but it also perfectly sounds like a regular Týr track. If you didn’t know the song, you wouldn’t even recognize it’s not a song from the band. I must admit that this is one of the very rare cases where the cover version is better than the original. The other cover on the limited editions is Pantera’s “Cemetary Gates” and it’s also at least on the same level as the original. It probably depends whether you prefer the technically more limited, but also more aggressive and raw original vocals, or the slightly more melodic and technically appealing vocals of this cover. Personally, I have to stick with Týr’s version for the reasons cited above, but I’m aware of the fact that Pantera fanboys might feel as upset as some Iron Maiden fans about my opinion.
In the end, Týr has delivered their most entertaining record to date. I still prefer the epic masterpiece Eric The Red and its amazing successor Ragnarok, but I would put this album in third place. Valkyrja includes more focused, diverse, and catchy song writing than the band’s previous efforts. The difficult and sometimes overambitious ten minute epics are gone, and shorter but straighter tracks that are easier to digest have taken their place. This record includes no stinkers, and after a couple of spins it has already grown on me. Fans of the band and those who would finally like to get in touch with the Faroese legends have now got a highly recommendable new record.
4,25 // 5