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Týr – The Lay of Thrym

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Constant critical acclaim for Faroe Island (part of the Danish kingdom) band Týr finally made me pick up Ragnarok years ago. My first reaction was of mild disappointment. After a couple of listens, I still couldn’t make out what people thought was so awesome. I liked their overall sound and approach, but so many of their songs were mid-paced plodders with the same rhythm and nothing to really distinguish them. Since then, my opinion hasn’t really changed with their successive albums. Each have a couple of great songs, but are ultimately fairly unremarkable.

So, given that the band obviously wasn’t for me, why did I even bother with The Lay of Thrym? Well, I’ll somewhat shamefully admit, I loved the cover art. So, I gave the album a spin, and for the first time since encountering them five years ago, I was pleasantly surprised. Although this album is certainly less “progressive” than some of their earlier work, I don’t know that it’s such a bad thing. More concise songwriting can do wonders for some bands, even if it has people who follow the Good-Music-Must-Be-Complicated School up in arms. Older Týr was hardly difficult—it was merely monotonous for all its pretensions to “progression”. The Lay of Thrym isn’t as blatantly geared toward live sing-alongs as the last album was, but the songs are noticeably streamlined and much more memorable.

Týr is much closer to power metal on this album than at any time in the past, a feeling that’s conveyed as much by their distinctive high-pitched vocal style as their major-key riffs and bombastic attitude. Now, I’m not really much of a power metal fan, but the simplification of their sound along those lines certainly helps make things more distinct; they seem to place a greater emphasis on building around a few great riffs instead of trying to fit too many ideas into one song. Hell, the variation of their rhythm alone makes a huge difference. It may not please long-time fans, but for simpletons like myself who don’t seem to “get” Týr, it might just be their best record in years.

— Tim Hunter

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Tyr – “Ragnarok”

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Tyr – “Hold the Heathen Hammer High”

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Napalm Records (CD, LP)

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