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Solid debut - 80%

Suechtler, December 3rd, 2007

Týr have become a well known band in the metal community all over the world with their last two albums and lots of touring across Europe. “Eric The Red” and Ragnarok are often hailed as masterpieces, rightfully I’d say, but the band’s debut album “How Far To Asgard” (HFTA) is largely neglected. This is a shame in my opinion because, while not yet playing their completely own brand of progressive Viking metal, Týr already knew how to craft some well-written and well-played songs back in 2002.

There aren’t close to as many progressive elements on HFTA as the band will incorporate in the future, the song structures are generally simpler, the rhythms aren’t on the same level of oddness and the vocalist is not as original as guitarist Heri Joensen who took over vocal duties from “Eric The Red” onwards. What we have on HFTA is closer to traditional eighties epic/doom metal, most of the music is mid-tempo; the majority of the songs feature an obligatory guitar solo.

But Týr didn’t just pay homage to their favourite bands on HFTA; beginning with the lyrics they tried to incorporate lots of Faroese tradition and folklore. The lyrics mostly deal with Norse mythology, “God of War” for example is about Týr, the Norse and Germanic god of courage, strength, justice, victory, defence, and battle, whom the band named themselves after and are written in English on all tracks but one, “Ormurin Langi”, which is written in Faroese, a really interesting language.

Of course HFTA also has influences from Faroese folk music, foremost in regard of melodies, but these are not as common as they are on Týr’s following albums. This is shown best in the great melancholic ballad “Ormurin Langi”, sadly I don’t understand the lyrics, but when listening to this song I can see pictures of a tale about the tragic death of a brave warrior appear inside my head.

Another noteworthy song is the album’s opener “Hail to the Hammer”, which is simple, catchy and has a great sing-along chorus and is really awesome played live. Now I’m coming nearer to the album’s main problem, lacking variety. I wouldn’t call any of the other songs on HFTA bad or anything, they are just not as good as the two songs I’ve mentioned above and are quite similar to each other.

The vocals on here are actually quite similar to Heri’s vocals in style, but former singer Pol Arni Holm doesn’t have a voice quite as powerful as his successor’s. Týr often incorporate choir-like vocals too, which are done by all band members and add to the feeling of hearing Vikings chanting their myths.

Guitar-wise HFTA features well-written riffs by Heri Joensen who is the sole guitarist on this album, which only lack memorability at some points. He also does nice leads at many points, and when playing a solo he shows himself as a technically very competent guitarist.
Drums and bass are largely used to create simple and pounding rhythms and fulfil this job very well. Sometimes the bass is also given a lead function, which works very well.

All in all HFTA is an album every fan of Týr should listen to, although it can’t compare with the band’s latest outputs, especially in terms of song-writing, HFTA is well worth hearing.