Final Verdict: 5/5
Standout Tracks: The Lay Of Our Love, Valkyrja, Cemetery GatesBeing Tyr's seventh album release, Valkyrja does not disappoint. The recent signing to Metal Blade Records changed little to nothing about Tyr's signature style and energy; a pleasant surprise to all. The band has provided on this album thirteen tracks which are sure to please, utilizing many different styles to achieve their desired theme and sound.
Valkyrja is centered loosely on a Viking Age warrior who leaves his woman in order to impress the Valkyries (and, indirectly, Freyja) in battle to be taken to Valhalla: the home of the goddess Freyja. The album has a sub-theme of women themselves, depicting the warrior leaving the earthly woman by way of the Valkyrie to the "woman of perfection."
The album opens with the powerful track "Blood Of Heroes." Punchy guitars and pounding drums greet the listener from the beginning, presenting a powerful start to Valkyrja's roller coaster. The next few songs deal directly with women (although in different capacities): from "Mare Of My Night," which offers (many) sexual hintings throughout (a first for Tyr) to "Hel Hath No Fury," a fun and catchy song about the scorned woman as well as "The Lay Of Our Love." This track is a stunningly beautiful duet (also a first) between Heri and Leaves' Eyes vocalist Liv Kristine that captures the listener; Heri and Liv's voices work so well together in this song that the album surely would have suffered without it.
Through the rest of the album we are continually hit with tight, technical metal from Tyr with songs like "Nation," "Lady Of The Slain," and the gorgeously put together title track, "Valkyrja." There are two Faroese tracks sprinkled between these; the epic and inspiring "Fánar Burtur Brandaljóð" and "Grindavísan." Both of these tracks feature incredible vocal work from Heri and though (unfortunately) I don't speak Faroese, I thoroughly enjoyed these songs. (Tyr's Faroese tracks almost always manage this, which can be incredibly difficult. Probably the language's deep roots in Norse culture that does it.)
The album finishes out with two cover songs (similar to their Lay Of Thrym album). Firstly, Iron Maiden's "Where Eagles Dare," which is an upbeat and altogether awesome son on its own, and Tyr rocks with their version of it. The second cover, however is Pantera's "Cemetery Gates." Tyr nails this one right on the head. The guitars are fantastically done, and Heri even manages to hit the vocals (even the last notes) just right. It's almost disgusting how amazing this cover is!
Tyr's Valkyrja gets an easy five out of five for everything it accomplishes. Though the music itself is nothing amazingly different and new, it's the Tyr that we know and love. And they've done an excellent job maintaining their reputation and their seat of excellence within the Viking metal genre. They have introduced several small new aspects, though that turned out magnificently, and I hope they continue trying new ideas with their music.