Now Thyrfing is a band that I know very little about but, to be fair, I have never done too much experimenting with black or death metal and it would certainly not be my first choice when looking for something to listen to. Therefore, I feared the worst when Vanagandr came up for review with its dark and portentous cover and all the tracks being in Swedish too. However, I listened to the album and was completely and utterly blown away by a most sublime band playing some of the finest metal I have ever heard.
Maybe it is because the band is an intriguing mix of dark metal and epic Scandinavian rock with huge doses of Viking mythology and a basic, underlying sense of melody in their work which then gives you something to anchor you to the sound. This then allows you to fully interact with the band regardless of how heavy their sound is and this is the same with, for example, Rammstein which also is a band with a harsh and industrial sound but built on a melodic platform that allows easy access into their world.
The whole Viking/pagan rock scene is much bigger than I would have ever thought and Thyrfing are considered among the leading bands in the genre and if there are other bands out there even only half as good as them then I am missing out on some seriously good music! The band formed in 1995 as an offshoot of the band Pantheon but grew into a stand-alone unit and the band has now released eight albums including Vanagandr. There have been a number of changes in the line-up too with the band now comprising Jens Rydén on vocals, Patrik Lindgren and Fredrik Hernborg on guitars, Joakim Kristensson on bass and keyboards with Dennis Ekdahl on drums. This then would make Patrik Lindgren the only original member in the band which used to be a big thing back in the day but nowadays seems of minor issue as it is the band name that is of most importance. The eight songs that make up the album are all in the 6 to 7-minute range and each one has a truly epic feel that hits you with the intensity of planets colliding with riffs that just seem never ending and some truly impressive guitar with plenty of sustain to thrill to the core. The vocals are dark, deep and occasionally guttural but totally suit the sonic barrage that leaves you breathless but wanting more and ever louder if you please!
It has been eight years since the band released the last album, De Ödeslösa, with Vanagandr showing that the band is a confident and vibrant unit that has very much to offer and I’m sure the wait for the next album will be nowhere near as long as this new release is going to generate so much interest. The music is huge in scale with an abundance of crashing bass and drums with cataclysmic guitars wailing away as though heralding the onset of Ragnarok. This is the first release by the band on Despotz Records and they have also secured the rights to the band’s first four albums so we should also be expected re-releases of Thyrfing (1998), Valdr Galga (1999), Urkraft (2000) and Vansinnesvisor (2002) but I’m not aware of any timescale for these releases yet.
The music is a little bit thrash, a huge dose of black metal and enough melodic/progressive metal to broaden the music’s appeal exponentially. I am now going to spend some serious time with the band’s back catalogue and I urge you to check them out as Vanagandr is a exceptionally good black metal album that demands to be heard and if, like me, you are not a fan of the genre then definitely give them a listen as this really could open up a whole new experience for you.
- Döp dem i eld (5:48)
- Undergångens länkar (6:44)
- Rötter (6:17)
- Fredlös (5:30)
- Järnhand (6:21)
- Håg och mine (6:01)
- Träldomsord (5:58),
- Jordafärd (6:58)