Eric The Red (Re-Release)
posted on 4/2006 By:
Viking metal for people who don’t listen to metal...
Tyr really did an excellent job of duping me with the Eric The Red re-release. I thought I was signing up for some shore-storming, village-burning, peasant-eviscerating, big-bossomed-women-stealing, hail-and-kill viking metal. All the signs were there: a kingly album cover with a Viking ship sailing through a mountain pass guarded by enormous statues of burly warriors, song titles like “The Wild Rover”, “God of War”, and “Hail To The Hammer”, and the coup de grace, a picture on the album featuring the band members clad in full armor and grimacing as they thrust steins of mead in my face. Oh how they duped me. And spare me the “why does it have to be metal to be good?” lines. I like my share of non-metal ‘traditional music’. Hell, I even have a bloody Carlos Nakai album buried somewhere in my collection. The cold hard fact is this: I had lofty expectations of kingly viking metal because Eric The Red looks like a viking metal album, and it was sent to a site that reviews metal albums. Ah, but looks can be deceiving.
First of all, considering this is a re-release, I suppose a smidgeon of history is in order. Eric The Red was originally released in 2003 as the band's second full-length effort. It apparently garnered enough positive reaction from folks to win the lofty “best album from Faeroes” award- Faeroes being a small pack of islands in the North Atlantic, near Iceland, and obviously where the members of Tyr choose to sit around the hearthstone. The re-release features new artwork and two cuts previously only available on the band's first demo released in 2000.
The album actually starts off on a positive note with the pirate sea-chantey, “The Edge”. It’s a solid tune with a fairly heavy guitar pattern and nice noodling leads. The chorus is catchy as hell and features some fine vocal layering, an element that’s definitely repeated throughout the album. Unfortunately, things fall south almost immediately thereafter. Track two, “Regin Smidur”, starts off with an almost Japanese flare to the drumming, but the bulk of the tune passes by quieter than a ninja in Steven Sagals’ living room. The guitars are thin and lack the sort of complexity I was sincerely hoping this record would deliver (there are two guitarist in the band, for fucks’ sake USE them). In fact, if you’re hoping to hear some metal, you’ll have to wait until 5-minutes into the fifth track before things turn back to any sort of ‘heavy’ riff pattern. And although the album's production is damn fine, it does nothing but accentuate the overall cleanliness of the album. My God, this album is too damned clean. Everything about Eric The Red shines shinier than the shiniest sheen - the guitars, the vocals, everything. There’s no gristle to sink your fangs into…no meat. Trust me on this one folks, the cleanliness of this album would make Alan Parsons hard for a fucking month.
To me, Tyr is the type of band your parents might recommend to you because they heard someone on NPR talking about how interesting the band is because they meld traditional Nordic music with what they think is metal. Sorta like what happened with Scotland’s answer to Tyr, Wolfstone. My only hope is that people don’t find this record filed in the metal section of a record store. While I admit there are moments when the music found on this album share elements with the lightest of light metal, Eric The Red is definitely better suited for non-metal moods. I’d recommend you wait for the new Enslaved.
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