posted on 4/2009 By:
Spending most of their career as another quality Scandinavian folk metal band, Sweden’s Thyrfing have completed their progression into something leaner, heavier, and darker with Hels Vite. Eschewing much of their folk influence in favor of more traditional epic territory, this album may alienate fans of the outfit’s older material, but what’s here is still undeniably powerful, and worthy of your attention.
The production is pretty muffled and doesn’t do the songs many favors, but Thyrfing make the most of their simplistic approach to turn forth some highly entertaining epics; “In Sista Litania” leads the charge with an infectious trumpet call and pounding rhythmic riff attack, and later down the line “Isolation” delivers a rousing chorus backed by one of the album’s most triumphant melodies. While Thyrfing’s current style is still folk-influenced, don’t expect any bouncy Ensiferum-styled romping. Hels Vite is more an extension of the mid-paced style pioneered by Bathory on albums like Hammerheart, and maintains a suitably raw, unpolished feel.
In fact, this is a pretty dark and depressing album overall, and sounds far removed from the aforementioned Euro-happiness of Ensiferum and the proud stance of Moonsorrow. Thyrfing' music focuses more on the horrors of warfare and the struggles faced by man both in the past and present, and the atmosphere of the record reflects this perfectly. Jens Rydén handles the vocals with a fierce, bitter growl, while the sparse clean singing lends a tragic air to what is mostly a harsh sound.
Thyrfing have been moving further and further from their Viking metal roots for some time, and Hels Vite may be too straightforward for some; the rudimentary riffs and drumming make Amon Amarth sound like a technical death metal outfit by comparison, and the mix is pretty dark ‘n dirty even by this band’s standards. But, like all good epic metal, it’s the songs that really leave their mark with this album, and Thyrfing’s songs are memorable as hell even if they aren’t as catchy and technically engaging as some of their peers. Recommended.
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