Týr - Land
Napalm Records
Folk Metal
10 songs (68'25")
Release year: 2008
Týr, Napalm Records
Reviewed by Alex

Somehow this review was not easy to write. It is true that I have been riding the Tyr fan-wagon from the moments the band sent me their Eric the Red for review what now seems ages ago. I proudly feel responsible for introducing the band to the pages of this site before they became a well-known darling of the Napalm Records label and a fixture at many metal festivals. And as Tyr’s popularity grew stronger and metal fans learned to appreciate this Faroese collective more, the doubts continued to gnaw at my mind. Would the same originality that vaulted Tyr onto the folk metal scene become its eventual undoing? Would their steadfast and faithful adherence to the native Faroese and, more generally, Scandinavian music culture be too narrow and stagnate their growth? Or, to sustain, would they have to ditch what brought them here, seeing how some call their shtick predictable and boring? I have listened to Land, the fourth full-length from Tyr for a couple of weeks almost non-stop now and, you know what, I am not bored, but all of the above questions will have to remain unanswered for another album cycle, at least.

As previous album Ragnarok was Tyr’s first full-length release on a major label, it is obviously more known to the public and for many it was the first real introduction to this original distinctive band. The reissue of my favorite Eric the Red came later and, a minority opinion or not, to this day I prefer the latter to Ragnarok. All the less cohesive, all the random collection of folk songs and, this is sinful to say, all the less metal, Eric the Red had the flavor of authenticity which is impossible to duplicate. After multiple spins and taking its time to grow on me, Land, in a way, is an attempt to reconnect with that folk side, albeit in a more polished and advanced way. That, and a stab at two epics forming the album’s axis.

I have used the word ‘shtick’ above deliberately, and not in an attempt to diminish what Tyr does. But those who do see the band’s art as just a sellable and perpetuating image will, no doubt, call many a moment on Land needless and repetitive. Why to open with basically a chant, a poem recitation set to some violin melody and a quick solo? Because for the proper Tyr listening mood you have to connect with the long gone ancient spirits of the past. Yes, it is true that I have heard the notes of Gatu Rima on The Edge before, but now they sound a little more radiant and cheerful. It is true that Sinklars Visa, Brennivin and Fipan Fagra may sound hammering, plodding along, recycling the riffs and the whole sections over and over again. It is true that Tyr often reverts to their rhythmic pattern, when the guitar riffs come in split second before or after the rhythm section. Yet all of these moments are necessary to explain the soul of the hard-working people living in some harsh Norse condition, the spirit that learns how to endure hardship to enjoy the simpler joys of life (Brennivin) or how to eradicate the force of marauding mercenaries who dared to invade (Sinklars Visa). Lokka Tattur is a perfect example where a dark ominous melody flows out of the bear gait riffs from which the solo extends. And it certainly helps if the explanation is done via manly clean vocals and well-crafted professional musicianship, even though I would have preferred the sound to be a little more bass heavy. Oh, and about being repetitive, the folk music of every nation in the world, big or small, is repetitive.

With Ocean and Land, both well over 10 min mark, it felt that those two tracks formed the skeleton of the album on which the rest of the ‘meat’ grew. Both bold and defiant stories of proud people throwing their challenge to what they perceive to be false god and unconquerable nature, these songs contain swaying melodic choruses and wind with melodies almost endlessly, perhaps a minute or two too long, especially the title track.

Speaking of the lyrical content Tyr are true to themselves using the lyrics of J.H.O. Djurhuus (the first poet who wrote in the official Faroese, and also the author of the hit Ormurin Langi from How Far to Asgaard) and Norwegian Edvard Storm who described the battle of Kringen in Sinklars Visa. The band still throws their gauntlet to Christianity, but their debate with Christ is a lot more philosophical, unlike say Amon Amarth where the preacher of the nailed god has to be gutted from crotch to gullet. And speaking of references, I have a lot more respect for Tyr saying where the Valkyrjan melody came from (Edvard Grieg) than Kamelot who shamelessly lifted it into their Forever composition on Karma without a word.

The album to enjoy for the fans and the album which is not going to make many new believers, Land, still does not answer the question whether Tyr will eventually write themselves in a box from which there is no way out, or their supply of native inspiration will remain endlessly interesting. My version is a digipack with a bonus DVD from 2007 Wacken. If you look at these guys perform live, the hope springs eternal.

Killing Songs :
Ocean, Valkyrjan, Lokka Tattur, Land and the classic Hail to the Hammer reissue is not going to hurt either
Alex quoted 82 / 100
Other albums by Týr that we have reviewed:
Týr - Valkyrja reviewed by Jared and quoted 100 / 100
Týr - The Lay of Thrym reviewed by Alex and quoted 95 / 100
Týr - By the Light of the Northern Star reviewed by Charles and quoted 75 / 100
Týr - Ragnarok reviewed by Alex and quoted 85 / 100
Týr - How Far to Asgaard reviewed by Alex and quoted 82 / 100
To see all 7 reviews click here
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