Thursday, June 9, 2011

Retrospective: Tyr

With Tyr releasing their sixth album, The Lay of Thrym (review upcoming), I thought it prudent to go through their entire discography. While I was doing so, why not write about it all? Thus a Retrospective was born.

Tyr was my first true introduction to the world of folk metal, way back in 2005. My then-recent discovery of brought about a ton of new bands and genres, with this mystical world of folk vying for my attention along with stoner, power and progressive metals. For the longest time, the only album I had by the group was their debut, being unable to find Eric The Red and later Ragnarok. I didn't truly start listening to more then that first album until around 2007 or 2008, when their material became more accessible, so I guess you could say I'm a bit of a late joiner of the band's fandom. I don't think it really matters because now I am a staunch believer of their sound, I loved their 2009 release, I look forward to this 2011 one, and they play a bitching live show, even at a shitty venue.

How Far To Asgaard - 2002
Their first album and my first taste of the group, How Far To Asgaard is an amazing debut from this act. It's one of their more solid release, but I feel this is because all of the songs sound very similar to each other, at least musically. "Hail To The Hammer" and the title track are the far-and-above winners of the album, but pretty much every song carried merit in some degree. Even their non-English song, "Ormurin Langi," is catchy. I found myself humming along and attempting to sing a few lines, this might be because I've heard it so much, or it could be because it is a song that transcends language barriers. Either way I like it.

Eric The Red - 2003
Aside from an amazing cover/tribute to "The Wild Rover" (a Nordic band singing a Scottish tune? Sweet) Eric The Red follows suit with How Far To Asgaard in that most of the songs sound very similar over the whole album. Except in this case they all seem a little more dull and withdrawn. It's as if Tyr was holding back while recording their sophomore album. The only song that was recorded with any level of 'wow' factor aside from their non-English songs (which don't quite do it for me) was "Rainbow Warrior," which is a really great song and the stand-out of the disc. The album is still good and worth the listen, it's just missing some of the energy and excitement that made their debut so enjoyable.

Ragnarok - 2006
Ragnarok is probably the Tyr album I've listened to the least in my tenure with the band, and I'm not really sure why. It's the begging of their 'true' sound, with some of the styles seen here coming to fruition within their 2009 release, By The Light Of The Northern Star. It seems to be a sort of concept album, with it's filler tracks depicting bar scenes and the like, but the overall message is lost on me. What I hear is some amazing music, split by two or three filler tracks, instrumentals. and foreign language songs. Where I found Eric The Red a little repetitive, Ragnarok is doubly diverse. It reminds me of Blind Guardian's Nightfall In Middle Earth, with the split between story-moving tracks and actual music. Songs like "The Hammer Of Thor," "The Ride To Hel," and "Wings of Time" (among others) are amazing and show off the modern era of Tyr's sound.

Land - 2008
I would call Land my least favorite Tyr album, especially after their previous album, but I don't think it would be fair of me. You see, of the album's ten songs, seven of them are in another, non-English, language. I'm not racist or think that English is inherently better then the rest of the world, but I don't understand a word whatever language are on most of this record (I've heard that they sing in four languages including English), and as such I really can't make it though a whole album. The music is still top notch, and the vocals sound epic and powerful, but without the lyrics as a focal point, I get lost within the songs. Of the English songs they chose to release, they chose some powerful tracks; two songs, "Ocean" and "Land," clocking in over ten minutes long, and a rerecording of "Hail To The Hammer" a classic Tyr song if there ever was one.

By The Light Of The Northern Star - 2009
This is what I've been waiting for, By The Light Of The Northern Star is by far Tyr's shining star within their discography (I haven't heard their latest yet, but it has a high mountain to climb). The songs here are all epics, filled with vivid imagery and destruction. "Hold The Heathen Hammer High" and "By The Sword In My Hand" are my two favorite tracks off the album and from the Tyr discography in general, with "By The Light of The Northern Star" being up there as well. It's odd for a band to have their best album so far into their career, but this is it and I love it.

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