After getting totally enthralled to the viking/folk metal titan of Týr, I began searching for as much music from them as I could find. Some tracks I found were from Eric the Red
, but there were two or three that were under the name of Týr that just didn't sound like the Týr of Ragnarok
...the band I had come to love.
would be old Týr. Back when the group was less known in the folk metal scene and when they were a five-piece outfit. After a little digging, I discovered that those songs came from this album: How Far to Asgaard
The first track, "Hail
to the Hammer
" can be called Týr's theme song. It is a good way to start out the album. It's a little slow, but the solo (played by Heri Joensen, whose position in the band was backing vocals and lead guitar) is nothing to sneeze at. It's as epic then as it is now, and even the remake from the Land
album is kick-ass.
It would be hard to keep this review from becoming a track-by-track, but that is because this album is just really good. Folk-melodies on sluggishly sweet tracks like "Excavation" and "God
" set this band as something from the old past of the Viking
in the Wind
" is very in-your-face explosive, yet has lyrics that are very philosophical, regarding existence and the insignificance of man in the vastness of the universe.
The epic folk track in their old tongue, "Ormurin Langi", begins a trend that will persist throughout Týr's discography, culminating in By the Light of the Northern Star
: the history of the Romanization of Scandinavia by Olaf Tryggvason, of which their native Faroe IsLand
s were not spared. It is a timeless piece about the people of the Faroes triumphing over the news of Olaf's defeat at the Battle of Svold on his ship, the "Long Serpent
", or, in the original Scandinavian, "Ormurin Langi." Carried down in chain dancing by their fathers and their fathers' fathers, it has now come down to this generation as a piece of epic progressive folk metal.
The album finishes up with the title track: another epic piece, this time about the first European to set foot on the North
American continent: Leif Ericson. Depending on which CD you have, the length of this track varies. If you have the Napalm
Records re-release, as I do, its about nine minutes long. As with all epic pieces, there is a sense of theme and repetition here that we will see later repeated in the Land
album. It's a nice, mid-paced song that is as bold as the rest of this album.
If you have the re-release, then you're in luck: you get to hear two more tracks from a Demo
during their interim period between the How Far to Asgaard
and the Eric the Red
line-up of the band. Both
of these songs made it on to Eric the Red
, and, in my opinion, sound better on the album than on the Demo
version, but that's just me.
Don't skip them just yet, there's a surprise at the end of the last track! If you have the original Tutl records version of this album, that surprise is at the end of the title track. The band appears to be singing a traditional Faroese chant in a bar. That
chant is none other than the Nornagest Ríma, a tale from the Romanization of Scandinavia era that is much sadder than any other material by Týr on this subject has ever been. It speaks of Odin
, in the disguise of Nornagest, meeting Olaf Tryggvason and telling him of all the heroes he knew in his time. The Norwegian king then has Odin
baptized, presumably by force. Nornagest had with him a candle, and when he was baptized, it went out...symbolizing the end of the age of paganism in Scandinavia (though, we have seen in this age, that Odin
has indeed risen up and returns to live in our hearts until Ragnarok
Saying that the band plays well on this album is a severe understatement. Heri is a good lead guitarist of his own right, his brother Jon on rhythm is equally as skillful, as are Gunnar on the bass and Kari on the drums. The singer, Pól Arni Holm, has an agreeable Quorthon
-esque quality to his unique-sounding power-metal vocals, which helps set this music and band as a viking band.
I implore you to buy this album: it is a good listen, though not always a fast explosion at times. A good start for a great band.