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Ferocious, Ravenous, Diverse - 88%

hardalbumreview, April 13th, 2019

There are many up-and-coming bands within melodic death metal, which happens to be one of my favorite genres, who, at best, can mimic the mediocre works of other giants, fading immediately from the memory of the listener and failing to etch their mark. However, this claim couldn’t be any further from the truth in case of Brymir. This very young yet prodigious Finnish quintet, hailing from Helsinki since 2011, took me by surprise, honestly.

What created said effect was, first and foremost, the quality of musicianship. All the members put to display the excellence in handling their instruments. Patrik Fält behind the drum set, Joona Björkroth and Sean Haslam on guitar and Viktor Gullichsen behind the mic have performed splendidly; but what stands atop other features is the orchestration and the arrangement of the songs, also provided by Viktor Gullichsen, which has given a bone-crushingly heavy, yet melodic and accessible sound to this album. Most tracks are epic and grand, like Ride on, Spirit, sometimes even owing to the full orchestration, e.g. Vanquish the Night, and they succeed at leaving a lasting influence.

The song patterns are almost identical, most of them start with an intro, soar to a towering pinnacle, solo kicks in somewhere juxtaposing a break, then comes the conclusion. This similarity in song structure, however, is amended and revamped by blending genres and making use of elements, here and there, of other metal forms: Sphere of Halcyon is an orchestral blackened death, Wings of Fire is power metal with the use of electronic sounds, Chasing the Skyline is neofolk turned melodeath and Starportal is modern metal, just to name a few examples of this technique.

Even within songs we often see a diverse array of sounds: an acoustic guitar intro then meets full blast drumming alongside keyboards followed by a heavy, melodic guitar riff and just as the ears are tuned to that, the break grabs your attention and the orchestral sound lifts your soul. You don’t need to look any further than Ride on, Spirit or Lament of the Ravenous to feel this multiplicity of sounds.

This album has not only musical but also topical variety. An assortment of subject matters, from dethroning idols and kings (Gloria in Regum) to a eulogy to an unknown ancient bard whose songs shall forever linger in the hearts of humankind (Ride on, Spirit – have I established by now that this is my favorite song of the album?!), to aging - yes even aging - (And so We Age) to leading a serene life in the heart of turbulence (Sphere of Halcyon), and some more have made their way into this album. Even a mention of Odin’s two well-known companions (read ravens) Hugin and Munin on Lament of the Ravenous helped them touch upon their fascination with folk and pagan issues, as was the case with their two previous releases.

So overall, this album was the best of melodic death metal so far this year. True it wasn’t melodeath in its purest form; it was, nonetheless, a display of high standards of musicianship and production, pummeling its way through to my list of top 10 of 2019 so far.

Highlights: Sphere of Halcyon - Ride on, Spirit - Vanquish the Night - Wings of Fire - Hails from the Edge - Starportal

Lyrics: 8.5
Artwork: 8.0
Musicianship: 9.5
Vocals: 9.0
Overall: 8.8