|Review: Tyr - Ragnarok|
Label: Napalm Records
Year released: 2006
Genre: Viking Metal
Review online: October 15, 2006
Reviewed by: Sargon the Terrible
This one was so eagerly awaited it couldn't help but disappoint a little bit, after the breakthrough critical success of Eric The Red Tyr had a monumental task before them: following up an album that most reviewers seemed to feel was pretty much perfect, never a fun task, but one Tyr took to with a vengeance. They didn't quite manage to equal their last one – I didn't think they could – but this is still a fine album.
Ragnarok is bigger and more consciously epic than Eric The Red, which is cool, but it's also a bit too long, and not quite as well-written. The music and the performances are first-rate, just inarguable, but overall the songs as songs are not up to the bar set by songs like "The Edge", "Rainbow Warrior", and "Dreams". There are a lot of instrumental tracks on here, and the playing is often just stunning, not to mention the flawless production job. But the real meat are the proper songs, and they are good, just not as good as I was hoping, and not as good as the ones on the last album. Tyr have gotten more proggy, which I expected but still don't like, as they have inherited the prog tendency to write songs that build and build and build, and never quite go over the top. There is a maddening proggish restraint at work here and there – especially on "The Hammer Of Thor" – that ethos of all masturbation, no money shot. It's the vocal melodies that are the worst offenders here, and while I don't expect big, stupid shout-along choruses from a band this artful, some payoff would be nice. "Brother Bane" is the most catchy song on here, and the chorus isn't really that awesome. I don't want you getting the idea that this album is bad, in fact it's very good, and the artistic intent behind it demands serious attention. But Tyr have written an album of brilliant instrumentation in service to songs that never go for the throat. Just when you think the Cool Part must be about to kick in, they back off. Instrumentally this is intense and gratifying, but Tyr have become more complex and studied at the expense of their visceral power. A worthy follow-up album, but I know their best is yet to come.
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