REVIEW: TYR – Hel (2019)

Official album artwork

It had been quite a while (nearly six years) since TYR blessed our ears with their critically acclaimed album Valkyrja (2013) – but in 2019 they triumphantly returned, with their newest and eighth overall studio album – Hel (2019). This was somewhat of a re-introduction to the band for me, as I think I last purchased The Lay of Thrym (2011), and sort of lost track of the band (I have rectified this since). The long pause for the band could be chalked up to many reasons: Touring schedules as Metalblade Records works its bands pretty hard, a few roster shake-ups with two drummer changes, and a bit of a scandal wherein the band was falsely accused of being white nationalists because they use Runes, which is easily one of the stupidest instances of cancel culture I’ve seen. So how is Hel, was it worth the wait?

For, me very much yes. I know I am in the minority here, but I feel some of TYR’s more popular older songs come across almost like folky Dream Theater songs – not necessarily a bad thing, but not my cup of tea. This usually resulted in long drawn-out and overproduced albums like How Far to Asgard. This got better in the 2000’s when the band settled on the sound that they currently still more-or-less use. Hel, isn’t really a concept album any more than any other album they’ve done, considering all of the TYR albums deal with Norse Lore, but the songs all do have an overlying theme of dealing with heroes deaths, Hel and the underworld.

Hel | Týr

Perhaps there isn’t one BIG classic song like Hold the Heathen Hammer High on this album, but this album is not a one-hit wonder like others – its a competent work from beginning to end. I honestly couldn’t pick one song to say it was “the worst”, and more than one song went into my permanent rotation. Gates of Hel, and Empire of the North are two of my favorites, but I also quite enjoyed the handful of more folky songs sung in Faroese such as Álvur kongur and Ragnars kvæði are awesome, and show how this band surpasses other similar bands of their kind whilst avoiding pretention.

  1. Gates of Hel 06:42
  2. All Heroes Fall 05:16
  3. Ragnars kvæði 04:08
  4. Garmr 04:53
  5. Sunset Shore 04:42
  6. Downhill Drunk 04:27
  7. Empire of the North 05:11
  8. Far from the Worries of the World 05:35
  9. King of Time 04:57
  10. Fire and Flame 05:39
  11. Against the Gods 05:43
  12. Songs of War 05:16
  13. Álvur kongur 07:24

I know the lead singer, Heri Joensen, is a divisive figure for these types of bands. He has come across in interviews, at times, seemingly saying he dismissed some heathens as being “re-enactors” which confused and hurt some of the band’s audience, but that said TYR delivers Pagan music to Pagan fans no matter if they want to do that or not. I believe Heri, is at least, an atheist and he has every right to feel the way he does and it doesn’t detract from the music in any way whatsoever.

If you have yet to purchase this album, please give it a shot, there are few bands that exist to make purely “Viking” music that are as prolific as TYR, and few can continuously make quality music without seeming like they are simply “painting by numbers”. Here’s hoping we don’t have to wait a further seven years for the next album, my fingers are crossed that a break in touring may result in some work being done.

30 Days of Heathenry – Day 26 “Creativity”

Art, Watercolors, Arts And Crafts, Paint Brushes, Blank
Public Domain via Pixabay

Question:

Make something with your own hands today, in an attempt to connect with your faith. (This could be anything: writing, crafting, even a making meal. Or researching anything related.) Report back.

Answer:

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30 Days of Heathenry – Day 24 “Songs”

Question:

List three songs that strike you as particularly meaningful at this moment in regards to your practice. (Bonus points for links to YouTube, etc.)

Answer:

Heilung – Alfadhirhaiti

I could honestly post anything from Heilung here and it would click – this musical project does an amazing job of trying to recapture shamanic rituals of the pre-viking era. While nobody truly knows how close they are, they do an amazing job of staying believable and making amazing music all the same. This song is an Old Norse prayer of sorts to Odin, as most of the lyrics are the myriad of names that The Allfather is known by in the lore.

Wardruna – Lyfjaberg

“Healing Mountain” is an amazing song and video, but the song itself chronicles a persons trek to said mountain, where a pilgrimage there can heal or comfort you as long as you place an appropriate offering. The lyrics are definitely taken from the Sagas themselves, and while I am not certain where Lyfjaberg stands today, its very fitting to listen to such a song in this Covid-19 soaked year.

TÝR – Hold The Heathen Hammer High –

An anthem of sorts. For too long us Pagans have hid in the shadows, too scared to be outed or to practice in the open. perhaps now, more any any time in history, we need to stand up for our beliefs and show everyone that we aren’t evil devil-worshippers like some think.

Bonus: Depeche Mode – Blasphemous Rumors

I know what you’re thinking, this has nothing to do with Norse Paganism does it? No it does not, but it does remind me of the former life I led, as a follower of YHWH thinking that he had any love for anyone but himself. Perhaps my Gnostic tendencies are sneaking through here, but my inclination that Christians worship a God of evil makes me never want to go back in any way whatsoever. It also makes me highly cautious around his followers. Plus, Depeche Mode Rules!

30 Days of Heathenry – Day 130 Days of Heathenry – Day 230 Days of Heathenry – Day 3
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