Týr – Battle Ballads Review

The Fisher Kings of Faroian metal are back and on the hunt once more with ninth album Battle Ballads, and all is right in the metalverse. Ever since these lads put the tiny Faroe Islands on the map way back in 2002 with their How Far to Asgaard debut they’re been highly reliable purveyors of a very unique blend of trad/folk/Viking metal that has no peer. 2019’s Hel provided highly entertaining and classy tales of swords and shields and I wanted more almost immediately. After a 4 year wait we finally get more from Týr. And the sound remains the same. They’re still the stewards of a unique style and that special blueprint has proven surprisingly durable, sounding fresh on album after album. The good news is, it still sounds that way. But can they keep their win streak going for yet another release?

The short answer is yes, though Battle Ballads isn’t quite as gobsmacking as their past works. That “it” factor that makes Týr special is still present and accounted for and there are several absolute bangers here that will thrill old fans and earn them new ones. Their kinda-sorta Ensiferum-esque style still cracks skulls, as opener “Hammered” demonstrates forcefully. This one has everything I love about Týr boiled down into one massive dose of awesomeness and it’s a great example of everything they do right, sounding like a more jovial Amon Amarth. It’s aggressive and epic with an urgent gallop driven by riffs heavy enough to leave an impression, and it’s so fooking catchy! Heri Joensen’s one-of-a-kind vocals seal the deal with a cool factor that can’t easily be defined and the chorus is V-money. Give me an album of cuts this badass and I could start writing my Record o’ the Year piece right now. “Dragons Never Die” is another stomping monster with that classic Týr sound as vibrant and effective as ever. The hooks flow like mead and the Viking ethos roars from the ever-catchy riffs and vocal harmonies. “Row” keeps the longboat moving through the waves with aggressive, rowdy energy and another winning chorus.

The second half of Battle Ballads has its moments but isn’t as stacked with killers. More restrained folksy pieces like “Torkils Døtur” and “Vælkomnir Føroyingar” are good but not great, and closer “Causa Latronum Normannorum” is a bit sleepy and uneventful. That said, rabble-rousing tracks like “Hangman” and “Axes” keep things from going too far down the folk hole and turning things into a Korpiklaani-fest. Battle Ballads blasts by in a flash and flows quite well. Its 41-plus minutes feel very accessible and most songs get in, give you the axe, and storm out all within 3-4 minutes. The production is big, bold, and clear without sounding too clean, allowing you to hear everything going on.

As with all Tyr platters, the big attraction are the vocals by Heri Joensen. He’s the rare frontman who sounds like no one else. His croons and bellows are the near-perfect blend of metal and folk and he injects a lot of passion and feeling into his vocals without having to overdo things. He’s just a special kind of frontman and he makes Týr stand apart. He and Hans Hammer serve up stirring riffs and harmonies aplenty, blending traditional metal ideas with folk and shades of Viking metal. There’s even a slight blackened edge appearing at times. Their playing creates a unique sonic tapestry that’s epic, majestic, and mighty, interlaced with folksy charm from their corner of the world.

Týr continue to do their own unique thing and the results continue to impress. I prefer Hel to Battle Ballads by a small margin but there’s still a lot to love here. Even the songs I don’t completely adore are quite good, and the best tracks strike hard and show no mercy. In a time when so many bands sound interchangeable, Týr continues down their own path and they should be respected for that, especially when their output is this consistent and fun. If you haven’t spent time with Týr yet, you’re a coward and a knave. Get your fishing rod and get with these bass masters ASAP.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Metal Blade
Websites: https://tyr.fo/ | tyrband.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/tyrband
Releases Worldwide: April 12th, 2024

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