Let me admit a few things right off the bat: I am a long-time Týr fangirl. I have seen this band in five states and two countries. I have racked up almost 2,000 Last.fm scrobbles in their name. When I got Valkyrja in my inbox, I was actually a little bit worried to listen to it. I’ve noticed a bit of a pattern when it comes to Týr releases — I’m not overly fond of a new album when it comes out, but I love it by the time the next album is released. Land was alright until By The Light Of The Northern Star came out, at which point it became awesome. Here I was, worrying that Valkyrja would just give me a ladyboner for The Lay Of Thrym, not taking into account that I’d grown to love that album already.
If you love Týr even half as much as I do, Valkyrja will be a welcome addition to your folk metal collection. Each track is brimming with life, thanks in part to drummer George Kollias’s performance on the recording. Of course, this is not to say that former drummer Kári Streymoy’s performances were without life, only that Kollias brings a different sort of energy to the table that meshes surprisingly well with the rest of the band. Even slower tracks like the traditional “Grindavísan” feel quite lively and upbeat with Kollias backing them.
One track that really surprised me was “The Lay Of Our Love,” the obligatory lady-vocalled ballad that all folk metal albums seem to have these days. I suppose I was expecting something along the lines of “Celestial Bond,” an odious track on Ensiferum’s Unsung Heroes. There are a few key differences there though, the major one being that guest vocalist Liv Kristine (of Leaves’ Eyes) has more talent than Laura Dziadulewicz and the other being that Heri Joensen accompanies her. A post-Asgaard Týr song without the always-delightful Joensen on vocals is like peanut butter without jelly.
Valkyrja has no low points, and the songs can be divided into two categories — “Songs I Love” and “Songs I Absolutely Love.” “Hel Hath No Fury,” which sounds like it could be a B-side to any album released by Týr in the past seven years, falls into the former category. Of course it’s great, but it’s a greatness I’ve come to expect and therefore it doesn’t necessarily wow me. “Fánar Burtur Brandaljóð” and “Lady Of The Slain,” on the other hand, are jaw-droppingly intense, gorgeous, and brand new. Naturally, none of my favoritest favorites have been released as singles yet, so you’ll have to wait until Valkyrja‘s mid-September release to experience the album’s full glory. It’ll be worth the wait, trust me. The cherry on top of the delicious Valkyrja sundae is “Cemetery Gates,” a Pantera cover that showcases Heri Joensen’s versatility — much, much better than the awkward cover of Black Sabbath’s “I” on The Lay Of Thrym.
I tried to find nits to pick, folks — I really did! — but there just aren’t any. Maybe there was one second of one song that didn’t fill my heart with unadulterated glee? Damned if I can find it though. (10 / 10)
Order the album here: http://metalblade.com/tyr/