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Album Reviews : Týr – Hel

By on March 21, 2019

I believe it was early 2018 when Týr announced that recording had begun on their 8th full-length album. Fans had been waiting patiently since the release of Valkyria in 2013, and it doesn’t take long for the hype to build when new music is edging ever closer. Now early in 2019, after an elongated recording process, fans are being left eager and wanting – and Týr is set to unleash ‘Hel.’

Based in the Faroe Islands, Týr has been a consistent band of the past 20 years, and while they would tend to fall into the category of folk metal, they’ve never been a band to shy away from experimenting with a range of different techniques, tones and over all styles.

Led by vocalist and guitarist Heri Joensen, Týr has never struggled with the song writing side of things. ‘Hel’ is no exception, but expands beyond that with more focus on shared duties of song writing throughout the album – and I believe that is what makes this album so enjoyable.

I look back to one of my favourite Týr albums ‘The Lay of Thrym’, and recall their ability to open an album with a beautiful intro that finds itself gliding smoothly into what will be a monstrous opening track. Týr have done it once again with ‘Gates of Hell’, building a dark atmosphere amidst beautiful melodies that entrench themselves in your mind, until the rhythmic guitar chugs along and blasts its way into the main melody – and just wait until the opening vocals, be prepared, it’s perfect.

‘Hel’ continues in pure Týr fashion, high end melodies mixed well with up tempo rhythmic sections and what I believe to be Heri Joensen’s most aggressive vocals to date. The whole album comes off as a much heavier effort in all facets, and new drummer Tadeusz Rieckmann has to be commended for the energy he delivers on each and every song.

As mentioned earlier the recording process was definitely a slow burn over the course of many months, with the band even stating that solos were being recorded while on the road. This process has paid off tremendously, with each band member shining within their own light but bouncing off one another to create something that gets your blood pumping and head banging. Much also has to be said about the way this album was mixed, each instrument is clear and holds its own place, and instruments like Gunnar’s bass guitar can add a lot to a song when you can pin point the moments he runs up and down the fret board mid-verse.

Týr once again have great success with the interchanging of English and Faroese lyrics. It’s easy to note the intricacies within songs when you aren’t focusing on the lyrics – and just like any band that can master instrumental tracks, Týr are able to create something truly wonderful regardless of their lyrical base.

Overall this album is much heavier in essence than their previous album in Valkyria. It definitely seems like an effort was made to meld all styles that Týr have succeeded in over their 21-year career, while once again moving forward at the same time. The contrast between the Metallica-esque ‘Sunset Shore’, and fast paced ‘Songs of War’ all do themselves justice but blend so well together when listening to the album as a whole.

Not much can be said in a negative vein about ‘Hel’, aside from the unfortunate fact of departing guitarist Terji Skibanæs; luckily, he managed to leave his mark in the most brutal fashion with songs such as ‘Empire of the North’ as well as the opening track, this heavier attitude definitely left a stamp of authority on the album and I don’t think he will be forgotten as the band continues onward.

For all long time Týr fans, this album is exactly what you want it to be. Heavy, melodic, and upbeat. The song writing is impeccable, and the way these guys are able to shift between tempos mid song and then rip out a life-threatening solo amongst it all shows why Týr are such a highly regarded band. Hopefully Týr can find a way to venture down to Australia in the coming years, if their albums can produce as much passion as this – just imagine what they could do live.

Band: Týr
Album: Hel
Year: 2019
Genre: Folk / Viking Metal
Label: Metal Blade Records
Origin: Faroe Islands