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A psychedelic doom metal version of Metallica - 79%

kluseba, July 14th, 2014
Written based on this version: 2008, CD, Napalm Records

Four years after its original foundation was cast, the progressive folk metal band Týr truly came to life with its first release How Far To Asgaard. Instead of the more power metal-influenced records that would follow, the band’s first strike is clearly influenced by doom. The eight songs, plus a Faroese poem that works as a hidden track, are characterized by epic-feeling song writing at a slower, mid-tempo pace. The songs have an average length of around seven minutes, which can get quite long after a while.

All songs feature a fairly dark atmosphere that is carried by somewhat simplistic but efficient instrumental work, and especially by the band’s first singer Pól Arni Holm. His performance is haunting, and he has a very melodic voice that creates well needed hooks in an otherwise somewhat inaccessible record. The opener “Hail To The Hammer” is such an example. Overall, the tone of the vocals is epic and longing. They slightly remind me of Pasi Koskinen, who once was involved in Amorphis. On the other side, a melodic version of Jari Mäenpää (Ensiferum/Wintersun) also comes to my mind. At some points, these vocals might also please those who prefer the calmer, down to earth passages of Blind Guardian’s Hansi Kürsch or the young James Hetfield of Metallica fame. This all means that Holm is quite diversified and does a decent job, but somewhat lacks his own identity. Sadly, this record is his only one with the band. I would have liked to hear more from him and see if he had been able to develop his own distinct style.

The negative part of How Far To Asgaard lies in its overlong song structures and its lack of diversity towards the end. The instrumental work is technically decent and atmospherically convincing, but it all becomes a little bland after a while. Many tracks have unnecessary lengths that lead to dull repetition (as in “God Of War” for example).

The highlights of this record can be found primarily in the first half. First of all, there is the quite catchy opener, “Hail To The Hammer”. Then follows the strong doom hymn “Excavation” that convinces with a few slow melodic guitar solos and a very vivid vocal performance. “The Rune” is slightly faster and moves more towards heavy metal stylings with vintage twin guitar parts and a strong old school NWOBHM feeling. The transcending and calm parts of the song call to mind psychedelic and progressive rock influences, and show the potpourri of great ideas that the Faroese already have on their side. The following “Ten Wild Dogs” is even more experimental, but goes a little too far. The track feels like a psychedelic drug trip, and is probably the weirdest song the band has written to date. That’s why it’s so addicting, and a pleasure to rediscover this song over and over again, even though it’s quite a rough ride each time.

In the end, the most famous metal band of the Faroe Islands is already showing its talent on this debut. Even though some songs are overlong or hard to digest, there is no filler material on here. The record even turns out to be quite a grower after a while, even if the second half of the record can’t keep up with the first three songs. Fans of folk or power metal ought to be careful and give this release several spins before purchasing it. However, this album should rather please progressive doom fans that appreciate atmospheric music with an old school touch. If I had to describe this release in one sentence, I would do so as follows: A dark, doom metal version of Metallica with psychedelic moments.

Originally written for Black Wind Metal