Saturday, March 18, 2006

Thyrfing- Farsotstider (Candlelight Records USA)

Lately, Viking metal seems to have taken a turn towards a more melodic approach to the genre. Although excellent releases, the latest opuses from Finntroll, Korpiklaani, Asmegin, etc. have digressed far from the original black metal base first laid out by Quorthon with the classic “Blood, Fire, Death”. In addition, the undisputed kings of the genre, Enslaved, have completely gone off on a tangent that no other band has dared to explore.

However, two bands in particular continue to push Viking metal forwards with a rougher approach to the genre. Those bands are Moonsorrow and Thyrfing. Last year, Moonsorrow released their magnum opus, “Verisakeet”, which not only made my top ten list for 2005, but those of many other reviewers, as well, with it’s blistering, soaring epic take on the genre. Now, early in 2006, Sweden’s Thyrfing unleashes “Farsotstider”, their first full-length since the solid “Vansinnesvisor” in 2002 and their sixth overall.

On “Farsotstider”, Thyrfing’s approach is to utilize solid, crunchy traditional riffs backed with powerful production, subtle hints of melody and folk elements, rough vocals, and mid-paced drumming with a few bursts of speed to deliver a lumbering soundscape that hits the listener like a ton of bricks. Never once on this release do images of trolls or bouncing Orc children enter my mind. Instead, like Moonsorrow, we have a serious, no-nonsense approach to the music that works exceptionally well.

While “Verisakeet” grabbed my attention from the first listen, I found that I had to listen to “Farsotstider” a couple of times for the music to sink in. I would say that this is because Thyrfing’s incorporation of the melodic folk elements on “Farsotstider” is usually subtler than on “Verisakeet” (which is already muted compared to Finntroll, Asmegin, etc.). Once the music had a chance to work it’s way in to my mind, however, I realized that “Farsotstider” is just as brilliant.

For those of you that may have been turned off by some of Viking metal’s more melodic approach of late, you will be tempted back to the genre by Thyrfing’s “Farsotstider”. Highly recommended.

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