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A Tough Nut Worth Cracking - 85%

lonerider, September 13th, 2021

Folk metal? Progressive metal? Melodic power/heavy metal? Well, Týr are all three at once, their stylistic emphasis shifting over time, from album to album or even from song to song. That being said, those who got to know the band with one of their later, more easily accessible releases such as By the Light of the Northern Star or Valkyrja might be in for a surprise when spinning Týr’s third full-length studio record, the somewhat predictably titled Ragnarok.

Achieving worldwide recognition and success in the music business is never easy and it certainly isn’t any easier for a band hailing from the weather-beaten, wind-swept shores of the tiny Faroese Islands. Listening to Ragnarok, however, it quickly becomes obvious Týr are not your average, paint-by-numbers metal Joes. The level of talent within this band is indeed staggering, with the remarkable pipes of Heri Joensen leading the way. This guy is simply a pleasure to listen to, his immaculate and imaginative vocal lines serving as the proverbial icing on the cake in Týr’s adventurous sonic landscape. Joensen won’t dazzle you with high-pitched screams but his voice is full of emotion, he is always firmly in control and his medium pitch is both incredibly powerful and varied. Kári Streymoy also deserves some acknowledgement for his inventive and constantly shifting drum patterns.

The drumming is where some of Ragnarok’s distinctly progressive flavor stems from, but the ambitious songwriting and the band’s seemingly unscripted, free-styling performance—at least that’s the impression it often evokes—is what really makes this a rather unique and demanding musical journey. Now, how could music this melodic and uplifting possibly be so challenging? First of all, even though Ragnarok serves us rousing melodies by the boatload, those melodies are never repeated too often, and even when they turn up again, they are rarely repeated in exactly the same way. The slight but constant alteration of integral parts of these songs is almost elevated to an art form here, and the song structures themselves are quite unpredictable and anything but your standard folk/power metal fare.

Even the choruses aren’t instant ear catchers and mostly take a little time to breed familiarity. With a name like “The Hammer of Thor,” the corresponding song can only be an instant crowd pleaser with a chorus urging you to raise your drinking horn and sing the praises of the mighty pagan gods, right? Well, think again as “The Hammer of Thor” displays a surprisingly pensive mood belying its warlike title. At the same time, the choruses serve as obvious starting points for those embarking on a journey to unveil the secrets and unearth the hidden treasures of Ragnarok. Standout tracks such as the opener “The Beginning” (even though it’s strictly an instrumental), “Brother's Bane,” “The Hunt” or the downright brilliant “The Ride to Hel” are the most accessible of the bunch and once you’ve become familiar with these, the rest of the album will gradually reveal itself and unlock its huge potential.

Further enhancing the complexity of this record is the fact that it’s a concept album divided into several chapters, with short interludes coming after almost every “proper” song. In a nice artistic twist, the musical themes of these interludes are often woven into the proper tracks immediately following them, preventing Ragnarok from feeling like a somewhat random assortment of various bits and pieces. Another asset working in Ragnarok’s—and generally in Týr’s—favor is the way traditional Faroese folk melodies are incorporated without actually resorting to traditional folk instruments. However, there’s only one more or less pure folk track sung entirely in Faroese this time around (not counting the interlude “Grímur á Miðalnesi”), and needless to say, “Torsteins kvæði” is another standout track on an album with lots of memorable moments.

There definitely is a lot of stuff to digest here, but once you get the hang of it you’ll realize Ragnarok is an—expertly produced, no less—album full of great, well-conceived tunes flawlessly executed by masterful musicians at the top of their craft. As far as progressive folk/power metal with Viking-themed lyrics goes, this is a very fine example fans of that subgenre and of this particular band will not want to miss. It’s a rather tough nut to crack at first, but it’s well worth trying until you succeed.

Choicest cuts: The Beginning, Brother's Bane, The Ride to Hel, Wings of Time, The Hunt, Ragnarok

Rating: 8.5 out of 10 points

Where ambition supplants victory. - 75%

hells_unicorn, April 18th, 2015
Written based on this version: 2006, CD, Napalm Records

The undertaking of a grand concept album covering the most auspicious event laid out in the Prose and Poetic Eddas carries an expectation of high ambition in the composer, for such is about as self-evident as rain falling from the sky. However, there are times when one has to wonder if there is such a thing as going overboard, even in the case of such a grandiose subject being the source of inspiration. Naturally such a question is best left up to those dabbling in progressive metal, since they are the most likely to find a way to find themselves on the outer fringe where ambition can turn into self-indulgence. But the case of Tyr presents a bit of a conundrum since their very style is itself an enigmatic mixture of two seemingly contradictory schools of music, one focused on simplicity, the other on complexity. Such is the unstable world from which Tyr's take on Ragnarok springs forth, so vivid that each nuance in the many finger and toe nails that make up Naglfar can be discerned, yet obscured by the fog on the sea that is the meandering songwriting that dogged this band's two previous albums.

From a stylistic perspective, this is probably the most progressively bent of Tyr's studio outings, and also the most overtly folksy. It doesn't quite suffer from the lack of energy and feeling of meandering in an endless train of thought that typified How Far To Asgaard, but it is also generally bereft of the truly driving, power metal character that would come into play a few years after. However, this is not an album that can really be described as "middle of the road" in any sense, but is rather a towering display of technical mastery and elaborate songwriting that just can't seem to decide on a single theme and passes through a lot of differing ideas, most of them quite good, while not quite allowing them to mature. Pacing wise, it feels like it wants to burst out into a moderately frenzied thrashing rage, but it continues to fall back on familiar territory, which tends to be down tempo and with an emphasis on rhythmic patterns that are somewhat off-kilter, but are also restrained by the simplicity of the band's melodic and harmonic influences from the folk side of the equation.

If this exhaustive stew of qualifying statements should cause a few brains to short out, it should be noted that it is the only way to truly articulate just how much has been crammed into this album. It's not too hard to guess, given all the brief instrumentals that separate much of the full length songs that this album is trying to take Tyr's own peculiar niche and apply to an album structure along the lines of Blind Guardian's Nightfall On Middle Earth. Since this band doesn't dabble with keyboards or orchestra accompaniment in order to augment their sound, most of the points of contrast found here occur through a heavy frequency of short acoustic/clean guitar balladry, development and variation of ideas in rapid succession, and a heavy amount of guitar gymnastics. The instrumental segment titled "The Rage of the Skullgaffer" consists of two combating lead guitar lines that are flashy and complex enough to pass for Luca Turilli having a duel with Dushan Petrossi, and similar fits of shred happy artistry emulating Kirk Hammett and Yngwie Malmsteen can be found littered through just about every full length song on here.

It's difficult to really pick out anything resembling a stand out song on this album because it is built more so out of moments than full length songs. Nevertheless, some of the full length compositions that round out this massive storybook of an album do tend to stand apart, if only because of how pronounced the parallels to other bands becomes. Right smack at the beginning of this epic LP stands "The Beginning", featuring a beautifully serene acoustic intro that is heavily reminiscent of the one that kicked off Ensiferum's self-titled debut, though it's a bit longer and loaded up with changing parts. "Brother's Bain" and "Wings Of Time" also make heavy use of clean, subdued sections as a counterpoint with the heavier, punchier parts, largely since there isn't a lot of truly fast parts to be found in this band's stylistic arsenal at this point. Arguably the zenith of this album is the heavily rhythmic and complex "Lord Of Lies", probably the closest that this band has ever gotten to perfectly emulating Dream Theater's brand of off beat songwriting while maintaining the folk air of their own style.

As strange as it may be, it is somewhat understandable that a number of people saw this album as being some sort of grandiose, genre-defining achievement because it is truly a massive work. In truth, that is this album's fatal flaw, it's just so great that it struggles to also be good a lot of the time. There are literally dozens of points in this opus where any listener can find themselves in a state of utter euphoria over what is going on musically, only to lose it to another section that may as well be almost as good had it not interrupted the previous one prematurely. It could basically be likened to a special effects heavy interpretation of Ragnarok where the actual scenes of battle and surrounding setting is so thoroughly dwelt upon that the viewer can't process it all. It's just the sort of album that can be really enjoyable once the acquired taste for it has been attained, but the amount of work involved in getting there is daunting.

Metallic/folkish perfection - 100%

HaggardBastard, September 12th, 2012

I never even saw them coming: four lads from the Faroe Islands, a territory that I'd never even heard of, playing a style of folk/power/viking/I-don't-even-know-what-to-call-it metal that is entirely unique, entirely their own, and entirely fucking awesome, all the while writing songs based around traditional Scandinavian folk melodies and sung occasionally in their own native Faroese, which is essentially old Norse.

Absorb that. Go 'head. I'll wait.

Why this band isn't being touted as the next Maiden or 'Tallica is beyond me, because if I had heard them first, they would've been my pre-teen heroes. Ragnarok, meanwhile, is their coup-de-grace, a veritable monolith, riding the crest of the folk metal wave well before most anybody else and bearing little to no resemblance to the black or death metal so common amongst den Norske bander. Instead, it draws it's cues from the kind of tradtional/power metal that ruled the mid-late '80s, albeit sans the camp, coupled with a hint of the melodics and harmonics of mid-90s Swedish death metal.

However, Ragnarok doesn't belong to any genre, and it's approach is decidedly utilitarian, drawing influences from those places that provide the means to a grand and ambitious end. Riffs occasionally doom-laden, occasionally progressive, never hey-nonny-nonny and always earth-shaking and hair-raising fill this mug (tankard?) to the brim. I mean, man, the riffs, they way they ebb and flow with the tide of the record is stunning. And I haven't even gotten to the vox yet; they really are an integral piece of this album. Allow me to introduce you to M. Heri Joensen, a man in possession of a soaring voice not just a bit reminiscent of the mighty Het ca. '88, '89, albeit more accomplished, less gruff, and altogether more dynamic.

Tastefully restrained in places, balls-out, tear-to-your-eye metallic in others, always memorable and anthemic and even singalongable, Ragnarok is a sleeper album if there was one, the kind of record that continues to unravel with each successive play, it's genius only revealed after a minimum of ten plays.

Burn and rave, not so brave - 93%

autothrall, January 18th, 2010

Týr is a name heard round the world, one of the few bands to emerge into the Viking/folk stratum with a truly unique sound, and perhaps the only metal band of note to ever hail from the lightly populated Faroe Islands. Ragnarok is their 3rd and most vital full-length album, which takes the penetrating melodic tones of their early work to a new height. This band does not simply evoke the storm and carnage of their conceptual material, but a brilliant warmth permeates their riffing and the dominant vocals of Heri Joensen. About the only comparison I could make would be Borknagar, during their Olden Domain/Archaic Course years, but Týr is simultaneously more advanced and less frantic in their writing.

This album is a complete journey, thorough in its subject matter, with 16 tracks of narrative folk-telling (ranging from the full-length metal songs to intro and outro pieces). The musical talent and restraint of the band is near legendary, and they manage to foreshadow and conjure themes which they will re-use throughout the work as a whole, a glorious subterfuge which glues the experience into your memory. This is no blasterpiece, the band rarely experiments within the more extreme reaches of metal music. Instead you will find melody steeped upon melody, complex and weaving through a hurricane of carefully laid rhythms and beautiful vocals. Aside from Joensen (who also plays guitar), the band is comprised of Terji Skibenæs (guitar), Gunnar H. Thomsen (bass), and Kári Streymoy (drums). Each a capable player in full service to the songwriting, never indulgent or breaking rank for any foolishness.

"The Beginning" dabbles in sparkling acoustic work and some powerful inlays of melody, the instrumental nature of the track lacks for nothing emotional, as the guitars create arches of sadness that scour the memory. "The Hammer of Thor" hearkens with a phenomenal dual melody that is picked up through the drums and bass, slowly gaining ground into a near charge, plucky mutes painting an aural portrait as Joensen's disgustingly hypnotic range. "Envy" is a brief, 70 second acoustic piece that sets up the gallivanting "Brother's Bane", and the vocals hit a mid range stride reminiscent of Hetfield's 'rock' vocals (though far more impressive). I fancied the glorious bridge of the song, as the melodies sting out from beyond the circular rhythm. "The Burning" is another intro/instrumental piece, played in a progressive/fusion rock style, but not lacking the band's folkish taint. "The Ride to Hel" is quite likely my favorite Týr song period, with its slower, crawling rhythms and the absolute eruption of beautiful vocal melody conjoined to the guitars at about 1:15, which will return during a faster rhythm later in the track. Try and shake this one from your brain, I dare you, one of the best folk metal hymnals ever conceived!

'Who has won, who has lost
Boldest son
Sent away and you will count the cost'

'We all died, when you fell
Far and wide
Waiting one to take the ride to hell'

A hard song to top, but the band will at least try several more times on this very album. "Torsteins Kvaedi" builds a dark, worker-like atmosphere, one can almost imagine the falling of timber and the slow, careful construction of longhouse or longship, as the sun arks through the day into the next. "Wings of Time" is similar, if married to a more festive lyrical pattern, while "The Hunt" takes on a swerving, prog metal groove to it, with a great rising/falling vocal pattern that perfectly pops across each plummeting guitar rhythm. "Lord of Lies" has a rousing folk melody which is so strong that it takes second place on the album, also some fantastic bass work. Scattered about these are some more of the band's shorter, instrumental pieces, and the title track "Ragnarok", which was probably the weakest of the metal tracks, though not lacking an atmospheric cohesive with the rest.

Ragnarok is simply one of the best mixed albums I've heard in the genres of progressive OR folk metal. The completely professional polish is almost mandatory in order to squeeze forth every nuance from the vast repertoir of riffing. There is a lot of music contained within this hour, with very few refrains necessary. The album does climax with "The Ride to Hel", but very little of the glow would fade later. Though their following full-length Land, is also quite good, it failed to deliver this level of composition, and Týr really have their work cut out for them if they wish to top this effort.

Highlights: The Hammer of Thor, The Ride to Hell, Torsteins Kvaedi, Wings of Time, Lord of Lies


Týr - Ragnarok - 100%

Corkhill, October 1st, 2007

This is my first review for Metal Archives, and indeed for any website. I have chosen to review albums which have affected me in some way, in order to fully express the ways in which they have changed me and what I feel for these special releases. Therefore I will be describing not only the quality of the records but the emotions I feel when listening to them. Anyway, on with the review…

In my mind, Ragnarok is the perfect album. Simple as. From beginning to end there is not the slightest feeling of discontent I feel while I am listening, mainly because I simply love Týr – after all they are the greatest band on the planet. The album’s first track, aptly titled “The Beginning” works backwards through the album, so to speak, outlining the most prominent riffs and melodies from each song in turn. These instrumental tunes are beautifully interweaved with one another and take you on a brief journey through the epic story before it has even begun.

Then comes “The Hammer of Thor”, which introduces us to what Týr are all about – the entire band playing flawlessly as a unit. The guitar melodies achieve a harmonic style that is unique to Týr, chromaticism is used to create an eerie beauty. In between each track is a short instrumental piece that introduces the main musical themes of its successor, and provided you are listening to the album on a CD player (and not on a stolen “burned” copy) these pieces flow perfectly into the following tracks. The mix of heaviness, speed, harmony and acoustics create an atmosphere that only a truly talented band with a brilliant composer can pull off.

There seems to be no end to each member’s musical ability, every track seemingly showing off a different technique on each instrument and allowing the ideal blend of beauty and power. The vocals are, to put it simply, perfect, Heri’s powerful voice providing a dominant front force in the tracks, while the full Faeroese choruses – a trademark of the band – present driving rhythms reminiscent of ghostly war marches of the past. The guitar parts are unblemished and the tone is perfect, the bass lines cleverly interweaving through the melodies and as always the drumming is watertight and completely unique in terms of arrangement and technique.

The themes of the album are well presented and thought out, Heri offering his own insights into the stories, applying them to modern thinking rather than simply telling them as they are (a prime example is “Valhalla” which unfortunately is a bonus track only on the Japanese version). The first track, “The Beginning”, uses an underlying dominant pedal throughout, which gives the sense of an unending bond between each story. The Faeroese are notoriously talented linguists and this is certainly the case on Ragnarok, perfect English lyrics flow well and are mixed nicely with the Faeroese choruses and other short Faeroese sections. The presence of culture is unmistakable.

All in all, there are no highlights of this album, because the entire record speaks for itself as a modern day masterpiece, and one of the greatest Viking metal albums ever released.

A revival of Folk and Viking metal - 100%

SirMichaelJ, December 26th, 2006

Týr is a band a lot of people have not hear merely because of geographical location. The Faeroe Islands are the little group of islands in between Iceland and the UK. And judging by their location it is no surprise to me what type of music they play. The influence is impossible to avoid, with the Faeroe Islands being occupied by Norse way back when.

With a little background on the band it's time for Ragnarok to get the credit that is due. When this album came out in September there were doubts. 2006 was a great year for metal, and how could a band releasing their 3rd full-length cd in 8 years fair? With shining fucking colors.

This music has the ability to be as epic as a Moonsorrow or Bathory. While maintains a heavy metal crunch. It’s done with a perfect balance or crunchy riffs along with very melodic riffs, not to mention the solos are near flawless. The bassist and drums create a very hypnotic atmosphere, this is the pounding and rhythm that really allows you to appreciate Viking and Folk metal blends. When you can get the vivid image of a Longboat filled with grizzled Vikings you know the composition of the songs is well written. On the vocal side there's only one word to describe them. Perfect. From the first line of Hammer of Thor to the final line in Ragnarok the vocal performance blows you away. No matter the range Týr's vocalist and guitarist Heri, hits them with crystal clear clarity.

The lyrics are very well composed. Multiple languages used to show some variety, nationalism, and overall love for ones culture. Many bands struggle with cheesy, gore filled lyrics while Týr sings about something that means a lot to them. The history of their forefathers, and lore.

There really is no way to compare these guys to any other bands. They are the most unique band making music out there today. The must listens on this cd are Winds of Time, Lord of Lies, and Ragnarok. If you're a fan of Norse mythology you will understand the lyrical concept behind this release. There is however some minute long tracks that lead into songs, but after a few listens they flow naturally with the cd.

Tyr - Ragnarok - 94%

Draomere, November 24th, 2006

Týr is one of the most exceptional viking metal bands out today. They carry with them a much more progressive sound than most other viking metal acts, and do not use any harsh vocals unlike which is a step outside the typical viking metal characteristics. This release offers Týr's best musicianship and brilliant vocal work; however, this release also offers much more progressive elements than actual viking metal elements. Either way, it has some very strong moments and should be easily be regarded as one of the best viking metal releases this year.

The album begins with a very smooth entrance of layered classical guitar work which initially serves as its own riff, but you later see that this sound is utilized again for “The Hammer of Thor”, “Ragnarok”, and “The End”. “The Hammer of Thor” continues the intros general sound, but adds in the metal side of the song. The album then flows from track to track with almost seamless transitions. I always find myself thinking I'm on like track 4 and end up on 10 at that time. It's simply because the album is full of interludes that immediately progress in the true sound brought through the melody of the interludes. The most notable interlude is “The Rage of Skullgaffer” which is a minute and a half intricately layered guitar soloing and offers some of the best musicianship of the album. It then jumps into “The Hunt” and it almost seems like a softer side compared the full song “The Hunt” which is one of the more aggressive songs from the album.

The album continues to progress through interludes and full songs, all of which have very interesting colors to represent the album. Everything in the album is fine tuned and flows brilliantly with very few lacking moments. This is one experience that can't be represented with just a track or two. For it's almost an entire song compiled into an album. It begins just as it ends and the filler tracks serve as the twists and turns of the album. After many listens of this album through a read through of the lyrics, I can best say that this is a concept album. Týr's chance to do something worthwhile with a story rather just an album. Ragnarok is on it's approach, and Týr is raising it's arm high in power!

Hail to the Hammer! - 90%

DeathForBlitzkrieg, November 8th, 2006

The Faroe Islands are a small archipelago between Scotland, Iceland and Norway, its population is less than 50 000 and I was rather amused when I found out, after buying the re-released version of Eric the Red blindly, that Týr are from there. Even more surprising was that I really enjoyed said album, a fancy mixture of progressive heavy metal and folk melodies and tunes, so without hesitation I ordered their new album a few days after its release. It was handy that they are on the Austrian Napalm Records, so Ragnarok came, among a bunch of other CDs, within the next day, but this one was the very first I put into my CD-player.

I can’t say that it instantly hooked me, but not a lot of albums actually do that, I always need time, maybe five to ten full listens, to grasp an album in its entirely and to form a meaningful opinion about it. After several listens it made ‘click’ and I realised how good Ragnarok is. I’m not sure what I expected, but definitely not a viking metal album, because Eric the Red was proof enough that a name, artwork and lyrics based on Norse mythology don’t necessarily mean that the music is viking/folk metal, too. Of course, the music of Týr has distinct influences from the traditional Faroese folk music, but by definition it’s heavy metal with a progressive touch. It seems that since How Far to Asgaard, their musical abilities have developed a great deal, so their latest output is the most progressive one.

A glance at the back cover suggests that Ragnarok is a concept album, because the songs are divided in parts of two, but I believe this is not the case, the lyrics don’t seem to be connected with each other. However, one part is always some kind of prelude, an instrumental, a fight scene or a piece of a Capella Faroese chanting. Mostly, there’s a smooth transition to the actual song, you’ll have to pay attention to get when it begins. Some might say that it’s pointless to separate it, that it could be all put in one song, but that’s just a matter of taste.

Now, this seems like a well thought-out album, doesn’t it? Well, it certainly is, musically and production-wise. Týr manage to combine excellent song-writing and high technicality to a surpassing mix, while Eric the Red had one or two fillers, this one doesn’t. To some extent, this can be explained by the fact that all songs sound different. It varies from epic riffing and choruses à la Doomsword to faster Maidenesque tracks to songs driven by intoxicating folk melodies, but it’s still heavy fucking metal. One definite highlight is the drummer; his tight playing, the loads of fills and the perpetual change of the time signature without being obtrusive are amazing, but yet he keeps his percussive duty in mind. The double-bass drum is also utilised, but not excessively.

The guitar tone is extremely thick, but beside the amazingly powerful riffs, nice leads and rather short solos can be found on here, the latter on about half of the songs. They have a distinct John Petrucci feeling without being pointless fretboard wanking and they really spice up a song. And wow, the guys can shred, as they show on the instrumental ‘The Rage of the Skullgaffer’. At one point, one guitarist plays neo-classical arpeggios over the shredding of the other guy and it sends shivers down my spine every time I listen to it. The bassist basically does his job pretty well without standing out much, but he throws in some nice leads here and there. He also has co-written a few songs, the main songwriter being vocalist and guitarist Heri Joensen. He has a vigorous and powerful voice; he’s somewhat comparable to Jon Oliva, the singer of the already mentioned Doomsword and the clean vocals of Jari Mäenpää. Of course, such comparisons are only to a certain degree useful, but they give you at least a bit of a clue what to expect.

All in all, Ragnarok is an excellent album and an aspirant for the best album of 2006. If you haven’t got into viking/folk metal yet, this could be a real lead in, but also those who need their metal to be more ‘sophisticated’ will most likely enjoy it. Highly recommended.