Still, We've Sighted Only Sea Till Now
Few bands have managed to both stay similar and change genres with little grief. Off the top of my head, Virgin Black is one band who started off gothy and switched to doom/death metal and no one seemed to mind. Tyr is part of the former group who play the same style album after album and those who love them are happy, and those that don't fail to see the growth and progression with each album.
Tyr's "How Far To Asgaard" was a straight-forward heavy metal romp with traditional folk melodies. "Eric The Red" thickened the sound while staying true to their heavy metal style. "Ragnarok" saw far more complex songwriting and a fuller narrative feel and seems to be the fan favourite.
That's how it should be. A solid growth of a band coming into it's own. "Land" is no exception. Take the focused narrative elements of "Ragnarok" and the heavy metal stylings of "How Far To Asgaard and Eric The Red" and then make them epic and you have "Land"
"Land" sees Tyr develop grandiose themes into epic narratives all the while staying true to their brand of riff driven melodically folk viking tales. Starting off with the scene setting "Gandkvaedi Trondar" an orchestral narrative that sets a brooding atmosphere steeped in traditional elements.
"Sinklars Visa"s A Capella gang vocals opening is great and spurs into a rousing traditional folk tune with Tyr's signature guitar work and a doomy A Capella breakdown chant. One of the stand out songs. "Fipan Fagra" continues that traditional feel swimming in melodies and "Lokka Tattur" throws in some biting guitars to the folk elements.
"Ocean" is an epic length traditional Tyr song heavy in guitar riffs and a crunchy sound. "Gatu Rima" picks up the pace some with a rockier edge. "Valkyrjan" is an acoustic heavy piece with loads of melody and a darker atmosphere. Some great solo work here as well.
The 16+ minute title track epic is a showcase of the bands skill in weaving narratives. It's grandiose themes are at time theatrical with ocean sound effects and spoken word sections which carry the songs folk and heavy metal elements adventurously to its quiet and subtle outro. A grand effort and successfully executed.
As a special treat the band has added a 2008 re-recorded version of their debuts "Hail To The Hammer". This is in fact the 3rd version of the song I have and although it is my favourite of the 3, it does seem a little excessive. If the band had included a version on "Ragnarok" I could see a pattern, but I think their efforts could be focused towards new songs.
As for this version, it is essentially the same with maybe a thicker guitar sound and a bluesier jazz feel towards the end. Reminds me the solo work off of "Handful Of Rain" era Savatage.
Overall Tyr's fourth outing is a great work of traditional sounding folk metal with a thicker guitar crunch and beautiful clean vocals. The Lyrics are steeped in Viking/Norse mythology, but don't think these guys are Ensiferum or Moonsorrow. I love the folk sound with the electric guitars and native language vocals adds an element of the days of yore.
A truly modern day retelling of traditional tales and another solid effort from Tyr.
That is if you like this sort of thing ...