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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.