Týr - How Far to Asgaard
Epic Metal
8 songs (53'24")
Release year: 2002
Reviewed by Alex
Archive review

It is funny how it works both ways. You hear a debut or an early album by the band, like it, and subsequently try to stay on top of all this band’s releases. Or, you hear the latest album by an established band, say to yourself “Wow, and I have been missing this!”, and work through their discography backwards. While Tyr is hardly an established band they wowed me enough with Eric The Red, their second album, that I had to hear their 2002 debut How Far to Asgaard. Thanks to an excellent manager in Sigrid Dalsgaard I got the album and I am able to review it here.

I would to focus solely on the music here, so please read my other review for band info and introduction. How Far to Asgaard has a slightly different approach to Metal than Eric the Red. While still being epic and inspired by North European folk music How Far to Asgaard does not immediately jump out and grab you like Eric the Red did for me. The record is quite a bit slower, not as immediately captivating and takes a while to grow on you. In the end, however, it is a very rewarding experience if you like your music to slowly roll along unfolding many various intricate soundscapes.

On How Far to Asgaard Tyr is basically testing the waters on how to write epic Viking music using complex harmonies and complicated rhythms. Hail to the Hammer is practically a signature song that exemplifies the album. It churns through a number of odd harmonies with clean accented vocals – very much akin to laboring on some farm on Faroe Islands. The whole record, especially the slowest tracks like Excavation and Ten Wild Dogs, are heavily influenced by Candlemass and Memento Mori, and, ultimately, Black Sabbath. In fact, muddy and brooding guitar on Ten Wild Dogs and title track strongly reminds me of Heart Like a Wheel on Black Sabbath’s Seventh Star. One little problem I have is Seventh Star is not one of my favorite Sabbath slabs. Thus, I am much more impressed with How Far to Asgaard more flowing tracks, namely The Rune and Sand in the Wind. While these are not blazing speedsters (nothing is with Tyr, by the way), they mesh asymmetric and laboring riffs with wonderful and majestic melodies so organically. With Tyr, no matter how dissonant and odd the melody sounds in the beginning, it always finds its way to end canonically and ear catching (God of War). Just like the river which always finds its way to the sea.

The vocals are all clean and handled by Pol Arni Holm who is not found on the second record where bandleader/guitarist Heri Joensen handles vocals himself. Usually, when the bandleader gives up the vocal duty one can see the improvement. Strangely enough for Tyr, I found Heri’s vocals more appealing, lower in timbre, and more manly. Don’t get me wrong, Pol does a fine job, but I like Heri better. Also interesting, picking up vocals did not distract Heri from his guitar duties, as guitars on Eric the Red are superior than on How Far to Asgaard. Maybe, having another guitarist on board for the second record helped the whole enterprise. Still, a number of leads on How Far to Asgaard weave through the song and enrich the sound. One perfect example is a lead in Sand in the Wind where guitar reminds of Irish flute or a blues siren like lead on The Rune or God of War. Rhythm section of Tyr never seizes to amaze me with its syncopated complexity and feel for Nordic culture. No riffs on How Far to Asgaard are overly heavy or crunchy, but they are rock solid nonetheless.

Only one song, Ormurin Langi, is sung in Faroese and borrows a traditional melody, magnificent chorus and tribal drumming. In hindsight, it would be an easiest and most money making copout for Tyr to just take folk melodies and adapt them. Instead, they deeply process their Skald roots and come up with their versions of “Tunes of the Far North”.

Just like Eric the Red, How Far to Asgaard is an impressive record where talented musicians recall their roots. It is even more impressive how much improvement has been made from the debut to the follow-up. My sincerest recommendation – get both, before it is too late. Then you will be able to claim you were a fan of Tyr while their star was still rising.

Killing Songs :
The Rune, God of War, Sand in the Wind, Ormurin Langi
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 - Land reviewed by Alex and quoted 82 / 100
Týr - Ragnarok reviewed by Alex and quoted 85 / 100
To see all 7 reviews click here
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