Týr: Hel (Metal Blade Records) [Rich]
After what seems like a very long six year gap since 2013’s Valkyrja album Faroese metallers Týr return with Hel which is their eighth album of Norse mythology themed heavy metal. Norse mythology and Viking themes are very commonplace in metal these days with Týr being just one of a plethora of bands paying homage to the mythology and heritage of their homeland but Týr manage to stand out above the most by not having any folk instruments or keyboards in their sound and having a style that mixes traditional folk melodies with traditional heavy metal, power metal and progressive metal. They have the gifted ability to write songs which are rousing, fun, dramatic and atmospheric all in equal measure.
So where does Hel stand in the Týr discography. Well despite this being the recorded debut for guitarist Attila Vörös and drummer Tadeusz Rieckmann it is business as usual for Týr with the band doing what they have done previously and doing it really well. Hel is made up of a great bunch of songs that showcase the bands skills as gifted songwriters from rousing opener Gates Of Hel to the thrashier All Heroes Fall, the moody Sunset Shore and my personal highlight the epic Garmr. Unfortunately there are only two songs on the album which are song in the bands native Faroese (Ragnars Kvæði And Álvur Kongur) and if you have heard previous albums by Týr you will know that this beautiful language is just simply perfect for this style of music. Where Týr do stand out especially are with the vocals of frontman Heri Joensen which again are lively and buoyant plus the lead guitar work between him and Attila Vörös is absolutely stellar.
One criticism of this album is that at just under an hour and ten minutes in duration it is way too long and some of the songs do outstay their welcome. Towards the end I could find my interest just starting to wane but on the whole this is another fabulous entry in the Týr discography. 8/10
Green Lung: Woodland Rights (Kozmik Artifactz) [Paul S]
Woodland Rights is the first album from London based five pice Green Lung. The band have been going since 2017, and have recorded one EP before this; 2018’s Free The Witch. So, Green Lung? Free The Witch? Woodland Rights? If Green Lung aren’t some sort of doom/stoner band, then they are guilty of false advertising. They aren’t misrepresenting themselves, although they are more on the stoner side than doom. This is huge stoner rock, with a side order of psychedelic rock. The bands sound does contain huge riffs, great vocals that feel a little like Ozzy, and a little like Bobby Liebling, and are full of personality, and bringing the psych; we also get some massive hammond organ. Although there are lots of references, from the doom/stoner/hard/psychedelic rock and metal scenes, one of the best things about Green Lung is that they have their own sound.
Woodland Rights kicks off with a great introduction, soft acoustic guitars that give-way to huge, gorgeous riffs and some fantastic harmony guitars. This then leads into the first track on the album, Woodland Rights. This is a great pice of stoner rock, massive, fat riffs in a doom/stoner style, great vocals, and for the second part of the song an enormous hammond riff that tempers the heaviness of the guitars with beautiful warmth. The song has a great, fun, lazy chorus, and a cracking guitar solo (something this album has in spades!). Let The Devil In is a mid-paced doom track, again we some of the best fat, fuzzy riffs currently available, some great hammond work, and an exceptional harmony lead solo. This is shaping up to be an amazing album, the material is heavy, but that hammond organ brings a warmth and benevolence. This isn’t really about heaviness, or aggression, it’s mainly about great songwriting and melody.
The Ritual Tree has a slower opening, hammond and vocals, very atmospheric. This then goes into a fantastic riff that is heavy, tuneful and melodic, possibly a little like Pentagram. The hammond is back for a slow, chorus, which has a bit of a swing rhythm to it. Again this is a brilliantly musical song, really well written, with a melodic centre that is intoxicating. Templar Dawn starts with a sample, before a blast of feedback brings a tri-tone dripping, sabbath infused riff. The track has a lazily, evil feel to it. The verse section is mainly hammond and vocals before the riffage returns for the chorus, which after a few listens you will be singing along with. The pacing of this song is lazy and relaxed, in the best way possible.
Call Of The Coven is a more up-tempo track, more strait doom than a lot of the material on this album. The song has a driving, powerful pacing. It also boasts a very good, lyrical solo. May Queen, is a softer track, probably the closest the band gets to a ballad. The track is beautifully blues infused, in places it reminds me a little of Gary Moore’s Parisienne Walkways, and also manages to have a guitar solo good enough to warrant that comparison. The second half of the song is a little heavier and faster, but the melancholy feel is there right through the track achingly beautiful. Last track, Into Of The Wild, starts with a great up-tempo hard rock riff, before going into a softer clean verse passage, before getting huge again for the chorus. This is another track with a huge chorus that you just have to sing along with. We get another great guitar solo on this song, the solo’s are one of the many high-points on this album, technically very good, but mainly beautifully lyrical and tuneful, the solos add to, and are an integral part of the songs. Into The Wild brings the album to an end in a very satisfying way.
Woodland Rights is a fantastic album. The fact that this is a debut album makes it an even bigger achievement. The album is full of great riffs, brilliant hammond work, great lyrics and vocals and some amazing solos, but these are just parts of what makes this such a great album. The album really excels at one of the basic things about music, brilliant songwriting. These are very well written songs, that work their way into your consciousness, till you are humming them constantly. While I was listening to this album I had it on at home whilst one of my friends was over. During the conversation my friend stopped and said, “Who is this? This is really good!”. Well, my friend Matt is right, this is really good, really really good. I’ve really enjoyed listening to this album, and will continue to listen to it, as it is one of the best stoner/psychedelic rock albums I have heard in a very long time. Fantastic album! 9/10
Critical Defiance: Misconception (Unspeakable Axe Records) [Paul S]
Critical Defiance are a thrash band hailing from Villa Alemana in Chile. The band have been going since 2013 and Misconception is their first album. The overall feel of the album is eighties thrash, a little like Exodus, with an added dash of first two Slayer albums, and maybe a little of early Sepultura, and a tendency to crossover as well.
First track Desert Ways gets the album underway with a great uptempo thrash attack. There is a definite Exodus influence on this track, it’s very aggressive and has (along with a lot of the other songs on the album) a cracking, rippingly fast solo. Spirit Of Hatred starts in a much slower way, slower but very heavy and powerful, after battering the listener for a little while, the song kicks into a much faster section. The riffs are tight, fast and exiting, there are times on this album where it feels like the band is throwing as many ideas into the mix as possible. After blasting for a while, we are back to the slow and powerful again, this time with the addition of another of those great solos.
Punished Existence is very fast and choppy. Great riffing throughout, the track just rips along, so much fun. 507 has a soft acoustic introduction, which reminded me a little of early Annihilator. After which the track is mid-paced, but with a feel that is relentless, and unstoppable. What About You is a blast of high speed, high energy thrash that is a little like early Slayer, back before Rick Rubin cleaned them up. Longest track on the album Onset is another mid-paced, but powerful and relentless song. It does have faster parts, where it is a little hardcorey in feel, giving the song an over all feel of Exodus crossing over.
Pursuit Of Chaos has a slightly more musical feel to the rest of the album. The track has some very NWOBHM harmonised guitars, and melody leads. The track also boasts a great solo and is one of the standout tracks on the album. Final song Misconception is very fast and has that hardcore, crossover feel to it, the track is a final blast till its soft acoustic ending brings the album to an end Misconception is a great piece of thrash metal, it is overflowing with ideas and riffs. The album isn’t perfect, there are moments where the intensity drops, and the riffs become a little lacklustre, but there is so much going on, there are so many ideas going into the mix, that a new idea is along strait away to get things going again. For a first album this is a great effort, and bodes very well for the bands future. If this is what they’ve come up with for a first album, I can’t wait to hear their second! 8/10
Beyond The Existence: Thoughts Through Imagination (1156216 Records DK) [Paul S]
Thoughts Through Imagination is Beyond The Existence's second album, coming 3 years after their debut Silent Mourning. So, what have the band, based in Thessaloniki, Greece, got in store for us. After a rather cliched, noisy intro the album gets underway with first track Memoria. The song is melodic death metal, with a fair amount of keyboards, which tend to go for a neoclassical style. The nearest thing to this would be Children Of Bodom or slower Fleshgod Apocalypse. One problem with the first track, and all other tracks on the album is that the vocals are too high. Apart from that the production job is fine, but the vocals need to be about 10% lower, and the music 10% higher. Musically this is not bad, lots of energy, and very well played. The solo is particularly good.
Invisible Chains is a slower song, slower but with a nice flowing riffing style that is very enjoyable. Again we get a very well played solo and the track is musical and tuneful. Blank is a bit of a dip in quality. The track feels a little lumpy. It doesn’t flow very well, the main riff is disjointed. The chorus is better than the verse, but not enough to rescue the track. Definitely not as strong as the material that surrounds it. A Glance To Afterlife is better, uptempo, poundingly heavy. The track also boasts a softer piano led middle section and an ending that is rather thrashy.
Illusions Of A Life’s Remains is slower, brooding and relentless. The track also has a neo-classical piano part to bring back a little musicality. My Darkness has a very melodic opening, a very impressive solo and then settles down to what is basically thrash, but pretty good thrash. The vocals still having a death metal feel makes this sound a little like the recent death/thrash movement, similar to bands like Revocation or Reprisal. Darkest Potency is a fantastic bit of uptempo melodic death metal, fast, melodic and lots of fun. Probably the best track on the album. Disgusting Misery is mid-paced melodic death metal, not a bad track, but this feels a little too much like the band is repeating themselves. Only Ice And Stars is mid-paced and a little ploddy, it does get better as the album goes along, but defiantly not the bands best. Final Track, Beyond The Existence, has a slow and very heavy introduction, before going into another fast thrashy track, great way to end the album.
Thoughts Through Imagination is a solid melodic death metal album. It’s not perfect, but it is enjoyable. The band need to sort out the mix, I don’t care how strong the lead singers personality is, vocals need to be at the correct level. The album is a little on the long side, so loosing Blank would be a good idea, this is one of those times where loosing one song from an album would improve it immeasurably. When this album flows and has lots of energy it works, when it loses those two factors it doesn’t work. A good album, that could have been great. 7/10