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Review: Thyrfing - Vansinnesvisor

Label: Karmageddon Media
Year released: 2002
Duration: 42:57
Tracks: 8
Genre: Viking Metal

Rating: 5/5

Review online: April 20, 2010
Reviewed by: Nahsil
Readers Rating

Rated 4.3/5 (86%) (10 Votes)

I'm not very familiar with Thyrfing's material prior to this 2002 release. From what I've heard, it's less serious, belonging more to the upbeat, Turisas vein of viking metal. That is absolutely untrue as far as Vansinnesvisor is concerned, however. If such a thing as authentic viking metal exists, it most certainly takes its origins from black metal and adds a dose of native European folk music, and that is precisely what this Thyrfing album is all about. These eight tracks are all sprawling epics, filled to the brim with notes endeavoring toward melancholic, primeval nostalgia. These Swedes prefer to ignore the progress (or regress) man has undergone since the days when regular sacrifices were made to Odin and Valhalla was as real as Scandinavia itself, when Aurora Borealis was more than the sum of chance environmental conditions.

Thyrfing's music is primitive in a sense, with war-like drums pounding away as jagged, down-tuned chord progressions recall ferocious battles and the harsh realities of life in that past era. Rather than being purely pessimistic or violent in nature, however, Vansinnesvisor excels in its treatment of olden glories. The album is littered with ambitious synthesized strings and evocative lead guitar, contrasting with the raw, bleak nature of the rhythm guitar, percussion, and most of the vocals, which consist predominantly of acerbic, throaty black metal shrieks, but occasionally venture into extremely well-placed clean singing, accenting the more harmonious sections of the music. This is most clearly evident in "The Giant's Laughter," a track which rarely fails to send chills up the spine.

Ferocious, jarring black metal has been done before; melodic black metal has been done before (probably too often), but few bands have managed to combine the one with the other to such a degree of credibility. Vansinnesvisor embodies the totality of life in ancient Scandinavian society; it is a respectful throwback to simpler and arguably more rigorous times, but not times bereft of wonder or beauty. Thyrfing pay tribute to the good as well as the bad, the majestic as well as the filthy. Essential to any collection of emotion-stirring black, viking, or folk metal.

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