Týr, A Night At The Nordic House (Metal Blade 2022)

Folk metal icons Týr have recorded a live album with an orchestra that exhibits an unforgettable musical symbiosis, A Night At The Nordic House.

It has been a little over twenty years since progressive folk metal band Týr was founded in the Faroe Islands. Their location is certainly a memorable aspect of the band’s character, but of course it is the music they create that sets them apart. Over the years they have released eight full-length studio albums, the most recent being Hel (2019). Their style is a progressive form of epic folk metal that overlaps Viking and death metal as well.

The new album was recorded live at The Nordic House in Tórshavn, in the Faroe Islands on February 8th, 2020, with the Symphony Orchestra of the Faroe Islands. If ever there was a metal band that could make effective and dramatic use of an accompanying orchestra, Týr fits the bill. From the press release … “Working with the Symphony Orchestra was without a doubt one of the highlights of our careers,” admits vocalist Heri Joensen. “The feeling of sheer sophisticated power behind us was extraordinarily uplifting. We were awed by how well the songs worked in a symphonic setting. ‘By The Sword In My Hand,’ for example, seems to take on a new life.”

There are eighteen tracks on the massive album, including the opening intro. “Gates of Hel” is the ideal song to hear first if you want to know what to expect from the rest of the performance. The slow build is enormously enhanced by the fullness of the orchestration. The primary instrument is still the guitar, and the voices and orchestral apparatus work a pervasive, all-encompassing effect. The gruff lead vocals match the perfectly the melodic aspects of the overall musical construction.

“By the Sword in My Hand” is another exemplary performance. The theme is an epic tale of conquest and the ideal instantiation of the narrative. Dazzling lead guitar work and soaring choruses combine into overwhelming musical power. The final track, “Álvur Kongur,” is the capstone, and you get the feeling at the end that seeing this performance would have been as amazing an experience as hearing it.

A Night At The Nordic House is out on Friday March 18th through Metal Blade Records. Highly recommended for fans of Týr, and genre fans as well – but, seriously, if you appreciate folk/Viking/epic metal then you are already a Týr fan.


Bandcamp, https://tyrband.bandcamp.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/tyrband

Týr website, https://tyr.fo/

Metal Blade Records, https://www.metalblade.com/us/

© Wayne Edwards. All rights reserved.

Týr, A Night At The Nordic House (Metal Blade 2022)

Theandric, Flight Among The Tombs (2022)

Back with the first new music since 2014, Detroit’s Theandric present the four-song EP Flight Among The Tombs.

The band had early beginnings about ten years ago in Detroit. Releasing an EP called Up The Irons in 2011, and then a long-player two years later, The Door Of Faith, the band went quiet shortly thereafter. In its most recent formulation, the players are Paul Tiseo (vocals, bass, keys, and guitar), Bill Bogue (guitar), Aaron Wienczak (guitar), and Matt Voss (drums). Tiseo had the original idea for the group, and it continues now along similar paths with expanded perspectives.

The music is filled with big notions in both the narrative and the musical composition itself. It has a renaissance feel to it more than a medieval one. More Robin Hood than Lord of the Rings, you might say. Fixed in fantastic ideas and melodies, the guitars sometimes play in homage to Randy Rhoads and the vocals might be mistaken for a merry take on Ronnie James Dio.

The first pairing is “Flight Among The Tombs” and “The Battle Of Sherramuir.” “Flight” has a notably prog orientation in the keys and strings; a challenging composition. “Battle,” on the other hand, has a lighter tone, even though it is ostensibly about a violent conflict. It is rather like listening to a mage sing about a storied battle in the most entertaining way possible.

“Condemned To Death” is heavy and dark, with serious, doomy riffs and sorrowful vocals. “Ozymandias” has a more mysterious vibe to it, mystical and maybe even sinister. Big riffs and soaring vocals line the halls of both songs, expressed along somewhat divergent lines. It is good to hear the solid production in these songs and the artful execution of the musicians’ vision. If you are in the mood for traditional metal with an epic flair, Theandric is worth a look. Recommended.

Flight Among The Tombs hits the streets on Friday, February 11th. The quick grab is Bandcamp. Links below.


Theandric website, https://www.theandric.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/TheandricMusic

Bandcamp, https://theandric.bandcamp.com/

Theandric, Flight Among The Tombs (2022)

Battle Beast, Circus Of Doom (Nuclear Blast 2022)

The unstoppable Battle Beast launches their sixth session of epic metal mayhem: Circus Of Doom.

I saw Battle Beast at the Worcester Palladium a few years back at what might have been the final New England Metal and Hardcore Festival. They were one of the earlier acts then, opening, in a way, for bands like Kamelot. I have to say Battle Beast gave the best show of that group. They had a positive, high-energy attitude and they did not hold anything back. I have had my eye on them ever since.

Circus Of Doom is Battle Beast’s sixth full-length album, following 2019’s No More Hollywood Endings. There have been a few line-up shifts, including one highly publicized schism. Whatever effect this had on the band, in the years since I have been following them there is only evidence of growth in songwriting and performance. Each album is a notch up from the one before, and the legion of fans for the band from Finland keeps expanding.

The title track opens Pandora’s Box with a calliope of metal. This is dramatic, epic music. In other words, intense, layered production surrounds the clear, powerful vocals of Noora Louhimo, who has one of the best voices for metal performance working today. The heavy guitar and rhythm makes appearances by stepping into the light and then sidles back to the shadows, but it is always there. Epic metal is a clear and particular lane for heavy music, and Battle Beast charges right down the middle of it.

Every song is up-tempo, and each has a combination of smoother and rougher elements, some leaning more on the one and others, the other. Put together, then, the album is a great success in variety and delivers to fans exactly what they are looking for. Recommended.

Nuclear Blast issues Circus Of Doom on Friday, January 21st in a plethora of physical forms and, of course, digital. You can get it anywhere that heavy music lives.


Website, https://battlebeast.fi/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/battlebeastofficial

Nuclear Blast Records, https://label.nuclearblast.com/en/music/band/discography/details/7563223.591628.circus-of-doom.html

Battle Beast, Circus Of Doom (Nuclear Blast 2022)

Wolftooth, Blood and Iron (Napalm Records 2021)

The third album from Wolftooth is their best yet: Blood and Iron.

Wolftooth is from Indiana. In 2018 they released their first album independently, Wolftooth. The band’s second album came out two years later from Ripple Music, Valhalla. That is when I first heard them, and I was greatly impressed. That album was one of the best I heard last year. The new one is a continuation of epic-scale heavy metal with colossal riffs and melodic vocals embracing lush lead guitar work. It is their best album yet. The band is Jeff Cole (guitars), Johnny Harrod (vocals, drums), Terry McDaniel (bass), and Chris Sullivan (vocals, guitar).

Blood and Iron has nine tracks. A quick look at the cover art and a browse through the song titles will tell you right away that the lyrical themes tilt toward fantasy and epic legend territory. The band has this to say about their new album – “Blood & Iron is the culmination of all the work that we as a band have put into forging our sound over the last four years. Musically, we feel that we’ve honed what works well for us while expanding on what was already there. This album represents a more mature direction, relying on classic heavy metal influence with a strong nod to our proto-metal roots. Lyrically, the album focuses on kings, battle, conquest and myth. These elements together coalesce into a riff-laden slab of heavy metal that we are all proud of.”

What I like especially about this music is the solid layering, the meaty length given to each song, and the lead guitar work which has an urgent quality to go along with is melodic essence. The title track is the perfect example of all this. As much as I liked last year’s Valhalla, I have to say I like the new one even better. The bluesy elements and fuzzy stoner presence is a winning combination with the fantastical lyrical ideas and the epic scale of the compositions. Top marks all around. Highly recommended.

Blood and Iron is out now through Napalm Records. Check out the label’s Wolftooth page, the band’s own site, or Bandcamp to see the available varieties.


Website, https://wolftoothmetal.com/

Bandcamp, https://wolftooth.bandcamp.com/album/blood-iron

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/wolftoothmetal/

Napalm Records, https://napalmrecords.com/english/wolftooth

Wolftooth, Blood and Iron (Napalm Records 2021)

Khemmis, Deceiver (Nuclear Blast 2021)

Denver doom metal band Khemmis roll out their fourth full-length album, Deceiver.

From their founding almost a decade ago, Khemmis has been a reliable source of thought-provoking doom metal. The lane of music they operate in tells you something about their sound, but they do not get lost in the crowded field – you can always tell when it is Khemmis playing on stage. After the recent departure of long-time bassist Daniel Beiers, the band is Zach Coleman, Phil Pendergast, and Ben Hutcherson.

Acoustic guitars open the first song on the album, “Avernal Gate.” The peace does not last long. Invigorating lead breaks and vibrant pace make this track an eye opener. “House of Cadmus” has a slower and weightier riff range. Paired with the clean vocals, the effect is particularly penetrating. “Living Pyre” is the first-half highlight for me. It is bold and serious in its tone and solemn in its delivery. The surprisingly wicked secondary vocal adds an even darker depth.

“Shroud of Lethe” sustains and permeates with its shadowy dignity. The eloquent lead break near the front and the vicious transient voice past the middle are perfectly placed rejoinders. “Obsidian Crown” sits atop a deceptively straight-forward substrate and from there grows and blossoms. In the closing track, “The Astral Road,” final lines are spoken in the fateful progression of existence. The calamity of conflict resonates in fiercer movements while the realization of the truth behind the increasingly obvious façade is revealed in the quieter moments.

The music on this album has an epic scale to it, a soaring persona that holds true in every song. It is exactly what fans of the band were hoping for. Recommended.

Deceiver is due on Friday, November 19th through Nuclear Blast Records.


Website, https://khemmisdoom.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/khemmisdoom

Nuclear Blast Records, https://shop.nuclearblast.com/en/products/sound/cd/cd/khemmis-deceiver.html

Khemmis, Deceiver (Nuclear Blast 2021)

Black Soul Horde, Horrors From The Void (Vinyl Store 2021)

Greek dark metal band Black Soul Horde take a journey through the Lovecraftian ether on Horrors from the Void.

Black Soul Horde is rapidly building a reputation for reliably creating epic metal landscapes in dark dimensions. Take last year’s Land Of Demise, for example, and the earlier Tales of the Ancient Ones (2013). The music has an Iron Maiden kind of scale but leans in a somewhat speedier direction. The band is Jim Kotsis (vocals), John Tsiakopoulos (guitar, bass), and Costas Papaspyrou (guitar). Vasilis Nanos is the drummer for the recording session.

The new album has a specific narrative focus on the mythology created by H. P. Lovecraft. A lot of metal bands have found rich veins to mine in Lovecraft, and for good reason. Not every song on Horrors From The Void is sourced entirely from this realm but they do all have mystical premises. The way Black Soul Horde uses the literature it is to take an idea or story and set it in an imminently digestible metal package of approachable, catchy riffs and thrilling lead breaks.

We hear on these eight tracks a talent for melody and astute composition that make every song a living experience. It is metal told at an epic scale and Kotsis’s voice is strong and clear – well patterned to the musical paradigm. My favorites are the opener and the penultimate track, “Beneath the Mountains of Madness” and “The Curse,” because they exhibit all the individual elements that make the album work so well as a whole.

The CD version of the album contains two bonus tracks, “Dragonfire” and “The Horde.” It is worth getting the physical for these songs because of the blistering lead work on “Dragonfire” and the grand presentation that is “The Horde.” If you liked their last album Land of Demise then you will like this one, too. For me, the new one goes a notch higher. Recommended.

Horrors From The Void is out tomorrow, November 10th, in CD and digital formats. Links below.


Bandcamp, https://blacksoulhorde.bandcamp.com/album/horrors-from-the-void

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/blacksoulhorde

Vinyl Store, https://www.vinylstore.gr/

Black Soul Horde, Horrors From The Void (Vinyl Store 2021)

Blazon Rite, Endless Halls Of Golden Totem (Gates Of Hell Records 2021)

Philadelphia metal molders Blazon Rite keep the campaign going with their new long-player, Endless Halls Of Golden Totem.

Last year’s EP Dulce Bellum Inexpertis was filled with portents and promise. It showed an approach to Epic Metal that was solid and expansive, a wall of sound built to the top. The new album not only continues the ideas signaled in the earlier work but also expands on them. Blazon Rite is James Kirn (guitar), Johnny Halladay (vocals), Pierson Roe (bass, synth, and guitar), Kay Hamacher (guitar), and Ryan Haley (drums).

There are eight tracks on the new album, and they display a greater narrative variety compared to the earlier release because Endless Halls Of Golden Totem is not a themed album. “Legends of Time and Eidolon” starts the boulder rolling with a commanding guitar riff that is quickly surrounded by the rhythm section and a synth line. Johnny Halladay’s voice rises, sounding like a traveling mage delivering the harrowing tale from village to village. The lead guitar skips in trippingly with bright colors highlighting the deepening story and completing it.

Every song on the album is constructed with the same thoughtful complexity and earnest roundedness. The styles vary from one to the next offering a rich listening environment. The music has roots in classic metal while pushing grand stories and power metal appreciations. The opening bars of “Put Down Your Steel” reminded me a little of Judas Priest but the rest of the song didn’t. “The Executioner’s Woe” made me instantly – and only for an instant – remember Rainbow’s Long Live Rock ’n’ Roll before moving off in other directions.

The title track alternates between power metal pronouncements and quieter moments while “Alchemist’s Brute” offers a light-hearted eeriness. The final song is “Into Shores Of Blood” and it is somber and sorrowful to begin with but turns up the tension and volume after a couple minutes to deliver a colossal sound. Blazon Rite made a good decision to create this kind of album in all its variety that nevertheless preserves in each song the band’s core principles. Recommended.

Endless Halls Of Golden Totem is out from Gates Of Hell Records this Friday, June 18th, in digital, CD, and vinyl forms.


Bandcamp, https://blazonrite.bandcamp.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/blazonriteofficial

Gates of Hell Records, http://www.gatesofhellrecords.com/

Review of Dulce Bellum Inexpertis, https://flyingfiddlesticks.com/2020/09/22/blazon-rite-dulce-bellum-inexpertis-review-gates-of-hell-records-2020/

Blazon Rite, Endless Halls Of Golden Totem (Gates Of Hell Records 2021)

Cirith Ungol, Half Past Human (Metal Blade Records 2021)

Cirith Ungol reimagines music that was long thought forgotten for their new EP.

The California metal band Cirith Ungol released four albums in the 1980s to early 1990s, most notably (for me anyway), King Of The Dead (1984). Big dark fantasy themes, wailing guitars, and the unique and unforgettable voice of Tim Baker helped write the band’s name in the book of eternity. They passed into the mist only to return in 2019 with a live album and in 2020 with their first studio release in decades, the earth shaking Forever Black. Cirith Ungol was definitely back. The band is Tim Baker (vocals), Greg Lindstrom (guitar), Robert Garven (drums), Jim Barraza (guitar), and Jarvis Leatherby (bass).

Half Past Human contains four songs from the vaults – songs that were written but never released during earlier sessions. These pieces have been re-worked and newly invigorated for fans to hold them over until the touring starts up again.

“Route 666” revs to life with a roaring engine and hits the road with pelting goodtime riffs and pops. Dual complementary lead guitars are the highlight. “Shelob’s Lair” sends us on a trek through the darkness and lifts us up with an energetic and impassioned lead break and outro. “Brutish Manchild” is the shortest track and could function well as a single or a rousing live standard to whip the crowd into a frenzy at just the right moment.

The closer is “Half Past Human,” and it is more on the epic side than the others. The song starts out quietly, forlornly, then builds steadily to a louder, fuller sound. The composition has a sweeping production with extended elements that highlight the best aspects of the band and never overstay their welcome. It is just the right nightcap, and it is good to have these songs finally released. Fans will be delighted that they are seeing the light of day. Recommended.

Half Past Human is out on Friday, May 28th, and can be accessed through the links below.


Bandcamp, https://cirithungol.bandcamp.com/album/half-past-human

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/cirithungolofficial

Metal Blade Records, https://www.metalblade.com/cirithungol/

FFMB review of Forever Black, https://flyingfiddlesticks.com/2020/04/25/cirith-ungol-forever-black-review-metal-blade-records-2020/

Cirith Ungol, Half Past Human (Metal Blade Records 2021)

Enslaved, Utgard review (Nuclear Blast 2020)

The incredible 15th album from the Bergen, Norway metal band Enslaved is Utgard, another impressive achievement in their long career.

The most recent previous studio album was E in 2017, and the songs on that album were generally long (most around eight minutes or longer), which is the usual way Enslaved creates music. On Utgard, the band’s compositions are tighter and yet every bit as creative as earlier releases. The band is now made up of long-time members Grutle Kjellson (vocals and bass), Ivar Bjørnson (guitars and effects), and Arve “Ice Dale” Isdal (guitars), along with newer recruits Håkon Vinje (keyboards and vocals) and Iver Sandøy (drums). The confluence of these musical elements is an alchemy all its own.

“Fires In The Dark” opens with an acapella treatment (in Norwegian), followed by an acoustic guitar moment, sudden heavy riffs, wispy atmospheric sounds, then a narrative element. Sort of a heavy version of Andrew Lloyd Weber in that it is a big production and a complex construction. The melodies in the guitars have a very magic carpet, djinn feel to them in the second half – a mystical desert vibe. The integration of diverse elements is the mainstay throughout. “Jettegryta,” the next song, does this too, in a very different way. It is not simply the variation of coarse and clean vocals but also shifts in musical cadence and style, sometimes perpendicularly, that throw you off cliff after cliff then lift you up on hurricane winds. We hear Epic Metal then Prog then a classic metal riff, here and there and all around.

On side two, “Urjotun” is a peppy straight-up prog rock song that is taken over by darkness as it progresses. “Flight of Thought and Memory” wells up feelings of sorrow and regret, while “Storms of Utgard” is more confrontational with amazing lead guitar work. The closing song is “Distant Seasons.” You can feel the curtain falling when it begins in its quiet and gentle way, but the power wells up soon enough. The relatively brief nature of the songs is a departure in a way for the band, but all the elements we have come to expect from Enslaved are nevertheless here in full force. Recommended.

Out now from Nuclear Blast, you can get Utgard on CD and vinyl and of course as a download – Bandcamp is best place for the digital.


Band: http://enslaved.no/

Band Bandcamp: https://enslaved.bandcamp.com/album/utgard

Band Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/enslaved

Nuclear Blast Shop: https://shop.nuclearblast.com/en/products/sound/vinyl/lp/enslaved-utgard-black-vinyl-.html

Enslaved, Utgard review (Nuclear Blast 2020)

Grendel’s Sÿster, Myrtle Wreath / Myrtenkranz review (Cruz Del Sur Music 2020)

The Myrtle Wreath EP from Grendel’s Sÿster gets a well-deserved broad re-release with Cruz Del Sur Music.

Everybody knows that Grendel’s mother was the one to watch out for, but nobody knows what to expect from his sister. That’s how I felt dropping the (virtual) needle on Myrtle Wreath / Myrtenkranz. – I hadn’t heard any of the band’s work before. They are a Folk Metal trio from Germany. This EP came out in 2019 and is getting wider distribution now. They also released an EP in 2018: Orphic Gold Leaves/Orphische Goldblättchen.

The thing about Folk Metal for me is that I have a short list of bands I like. Korpiklaani, Finntroll, Týr, a few others. I am not a deep diver in these waters, so I do not have a learned opinion. I just know whether I like what I hear. I really like Myrtenkranz.

There are seven songs and an intro bit, and they are presented in two versions each – one in English and one in German. I have a strong and abiding preference for the versions in German. No, I don’t speak German. To my ear singing in German simply sounds better with the music. Grendel’s Sÿster does not sound anything like the bands I listed, really. They are very much on the Folk side of Folk Metal. Plainly, it is like listening to folk songs that employ (fuzzy) electric guitars for instruments. The vocals are beautifully melodic and clear. Beyond traditional Folk constructions, many of the songs have the epic and march urgency heard in music from bands like Falconer, but not as loud. Lead guitar expressions are also low key and tastefully executed. This is a great album for when you are not in the mood to have your block knocked completely off. Recommended.

The physicals start shipping September 25, and the digital is available now at Bandcamp and elsewhere. The first EP Orphic Gold Leaves is not on Spotify (last time I looked) and the hardcopies are sold out, but you can still get the English vocal version as a download.






Grendel’s Sÿster, Myrtle Wreath / Myrtenkranz review (Cruz Del Sur Music 2020)