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What to make of this... - 60%

natrix, August 21st, 2013

A Viking metal band from the Faroe Islands. Sounds pretty damn good, doesn't it? I mean, these guys should have this type of thing in their blood, right? As far as the whole Viking folklore goes, this is about as authentic as you can get: some lyrics are sung in the musical Faroese language, and Tyr knows their Norse legends. At some points, this really does evoke the legends of the Vikings...but at others, it resembles a bunch of drunk Norsemen sitting around a campfire with electric guitars, some of which have been grazing on suspicious mushrooms.

But what about the metal?

That's where Tyr really draws a big question mark. Typically, you do have the right elements for a decent doom metal album. Slow tempos, groaning guitars and epicness. The vocals are pretty average. Rarely cringeworthy, I must say, but at a few points it sounds like he's really straining to hit the notes.

The bass isn't worth mentioning, but the drums and guitars are. First, the drums don't do anything fantastic. No classy fills, no pummeling double bass, and they're way too weak in the mix. How Far to Asgaard, as far as it is supposed to bring to mind epicness, screams out for a mighty drum prescence, not this sleepy stuff!

Now, the guitars. I don't know if Tyr was trying to mix in traditional Faroese folk melodies or what, but it seems that they like using scales that are not only uncommon for metal, but unsuitable for metal. Take any song from "Hail to the Hammer" to "Ten Wild Dogs" (which does feature some strange tapping), and you'll recognize the problem immidiately. There are some great moments on here, the least metal of which, "Ormurin Langi," is easily the best. "The Rune" starts off with a sweet riff, then they change it to some really goofy melody, then they go into light verse, and some melancholic riffs. It all works really well, save for that fruity second melody. Nearly every time they start playing a riff, they'll play one or two notes seemingly out of place, which completely derails everything. I guess it earns them the tag "progressive," but it really make How Far to Asgaard an uneasy listening experience. As I've said before, this is more of a doomy album, and it crawls along just about a turtle's stride. This is not a problem, however. The problem is those happy riffs!

I had incorrectly assumed that this was recorded in the Faroe Islands, as the sound suffers from that classic the-producer-has-no-idea-what-the-fuck-metal-is syndrome, apparent in otherwise great works by bands from Algeria, to Thailand, to Greenland. The guitars have no lower end, and sound way too clear, making the happy melodies all the more irritating. The drums suffer the most from this production ignorance, and come across as crispy wafers and frisbees of metal.

I'll check out more by Tyr, but this is just too weird to be considered a proper "metal" album.