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On the cover of Thyrfing’s debut album, a lone Viking warrior stands on the shore of a recently conquered land. His sword is held high above his head in a victory stance as three dragon ships approach the rocky coastline. This piece of artwork by Kris Verwimp gives the listener a taste of what’s to come, a crew of Vikings ready to land upon the shore, slaughter, rape and plunder. Well, maybe that is…
The first thing that really caught my ear while listening to this album was the heavy use of keyboards. From the opening keyboard intro, the aggressiveness I was expecting was washed away. But, once the vocals came in with a raspy Viking growl they somehow complimented the use of keyboards. Unfortunately the guitar is buried in the mix by the keyboards and the vocals. But this doesn't ruin the album for me, yes the keyboard is a predominant factor in every song, but it’s done in a tasteful enough manner that it comes off as majestic and not cheesy. I just wish the guitars were louder in the mix to give this more balls.
The lyrics while not literary masterpieces, serve the songs well. What do you expect though; this is a Viking metal album after all. Most Viking metal that I've heard has a firm rooting in Norse mythology, as does this release. There are a total of ten songs, six in English and the other four in Swedish. Being a native English speaker, I actually prefer the Swedish vocals, they sound more angry and filthy than their English counterparts. As a whole it creates a nice balance having this kind of diversity in the lyrical presentation.
While I enjoy this album, something just feels like it’s missing to make it the total package. It was recorded at Sunlight Studios in Stockholm, so yes it does have that buzz saw guitar tone, but as I have mentioned it’s buried in the mix. I’m a fan of keyboards, but guitars will always be more important on a metal album. The vocals suit the music well, guitars and drums are interesting enough, but the goddamn keyboards overpower everything. The mix does take a little getting used to; it’s not a raw sounding album by any means but just has a sort of awkward feel to it. If you enjoy Viking themed metal, you’ll probably like this, check it out.
Very sad that this album and band made it onto this review series. For a few years now I’ve been listening to this, and it’s just become less and less interesting. The biggest sucker of eggs is the production – its way too quiet for the kind of music we’re going to dive into; viking / thrash that would be greatly appreciated by Quorthon himself, I’m sure. I have to turn my volume up a few notches to hear it as clearly as even the poorest produced Iron Maiden. Yes, most of you will just bark, “turning up the volume shouldn’t be grounds for docking points.” Well, too fucking bad because its incredibly annoying having to risk annoying everyone else in the house just because my one album is too quiet. I keep having to do this and once in a while I may forget, play a song from a different band, and be met with an overly loud song just because I forgot to turn it down after hearing the ever-so-important Thyrfing.
Sometimes, like in the case of this album, I might as well blast it up even higher because the music is kickass. Its very crunchy, aggressive viking metal with great harsh vocals by Jens. Naglfar really bit the dust after their first album, so I’ll side with Jens for ditching the band while he could (although six years too late). Once you get the volume loud enough to hear the album clearly, you’re going to appreciate how fun the songs are with the thrashy guitar tone and a bombastic bass. The vocals are raspy growls that occasionally go into screams, which is great for the course. Drumming really is buried under everything, especially the double bass – and that’s no good. The rest of the kit sounds great, but the rhythms aren’t worth following or paying attention to since not everything is properly up.
The biggest trait that his album has over many others is the keys, by far. “Set Sail To Plunder,” “A Burning Arrow,” “En Döende Mans Förbannelse,” and “Going Berserk” wouldn’t be half the songs they are without these additions. They aren’t really cheesy or overdone like Limbonic Art’s music, but god damn do they make the songs incredibly epic. They’re the reason why this is solely viking metal rather than thrashy black metal. Acoustics are present, but they don’t play such a substantial role as these authentic sounding keys.
I’m having serious doubts about booting this one, but I know that once I’m done listening to it for this sitting, it’ll immediately be a thing of the past. Four years, folks, has this band attempted to break through into my library. Alas, it has sat there just pondering how the hell it was going to get out. It’s a pretty good album and band, but nothing I’d sacrifice something for. Maybe one day I’ll take a look again, but since I’ve already tried for four years I doubt it’ll be anytime soon.
Thyrfing is your typical Viking metal band with some harsh vocals. But what makes them stand out from the rest (and what makes them good) are the synthesizers played by Peter Lof.
The music itself is very predictable. It’s mostly mid-paced, although the openings to some songs are slow due to the synthesizes and the outro bass part in “Going Berserk” is also on the slow side, although “Vargavinter” is fast throughout the song. The guitar is played using the same rhythm part over and over; only it’s played fast linking it together. What sucks about it is that it’s the exact same lead on every song. Every song has the same tune of the guitar, and the only difference is the speed of the guitarist. Bass part is what you would expect, following the guitar, although there are some quick solos in most of the songs, and the bass does the ending for the song “Going Berserk”.
Nothing new or exciting comes out of the vocals. This is one of the albums with Thomas Väänänen doing the vocal part, and he does an ok job. He’s just average, doing nothing spectacular or amazing on this album. His harsh croaky voice fits with the rest of the music, and goes well with the synthesizers.
Like I said, the synthesizers are what make this band unique. Almost every song opens with them and they play throughout the songs. It’s played usually mid tempo like the rest of the work on here but it’s really fast in “Vargavinter”.
This is a pretty decent album. It can be predictable and get a bit repetitive but other than that this is a strong album. Fans of Viking metal should look for it.