Brymir
Voices in the Sky

I’m just gonna go ahead and set all my clocks back by like, I dunno, 20 or 25 years? Etsy has LOTS of Princess Diana calendars from 1998 available, so I’m well covered there. I hear JNCO jeans are sorta a thing again? So much denim. The reason for all this turn-of-the-21st-century behavior? MELODEATH IS OFFICIALLY BACK, BABAYYYYYYYYYY!!!!! I’m calling it. I’m stoked. Don’t rain on my parade.

It’s been a steady build over the last few years. While a select few have continued to valiantly try to keep the Melodic Death Metal ship afloat, it’s been a minute since the genre has gotten a steady injection of fresh blood to keep it from withering away into the ether. But recently, a stream of really high-quality releases from both the old guard and newer, up-and-coming acts, have made the release of a new banger Melodeath album much less of an outlier – and this new release from Finland’s Brymir sure as heck qualifies.

As far as where Brymir fits on the Melodeath timeline, they’re not exactly newcomers – their first full length album released all the way back in 2011 – but with four albums in 11 years, they’re certainly not the genre’s most prolific or perhaps even very well-known acts, either. That said, after 2019’s very solid Wings of Fire helped the band gain a little more attention, they eventually found a (frankly, perfect) fit with Napalm records last year, setting the stage for Voices in the Sky to skyrocket them (pun 100% intended) to brand new heights. They’re certainly bringing a sound that should be appealing to a wide audience – an unerringly catchy and powerful mix of Finnish Melodeath and folk that covers a fair amount of ground as influences are concerned. If this isn’t your first time at the Brymir rodeo, you’ll definitely notice that the band is moving a little further away from their more folk-forward sound, and leaning a lot more heavily on the Melodic Death metal influences. Perhaps most recognizably, you hear a LOT of Soilwork, particularly on second track “Forged in War,” that features riffs and progressions that could easily have been featured on some unheard Sworn to a Great Divide or The Panic Broadcast-era bonus track. Even Viktor Gullichsen’s vocals, apart from his more operatic cleans, carry some very Speed Strid-like qualities – perhaps not in exact tone, but very much in his vocal delivery.

 

Later on, “Rift Between Us” starts with a clean guitar lick that sounds very much influenced by current Soilwork guitarist Sylvain Coudret, and during the clean, dissonant verses,  Gullichsen’s vocals really carry that Strid-like quality that might even have you doing a double take. In between that however, you catch glimpses of one of their Finnish Melodeth compatriots, Omnium Gatherum – in particular the signature guitar leads of Markus Vanhala. You get that vibe very clearly even earlier on the record on “Fly With Me,” which genuinely just sounds like an OG track with less cookie monster-esque harsh vocals.  But that clean-vocal-backed chorus? My mind immediately goes to Omnium Gatherum, and that’s not at all a bad thing.

All that said, as the album moves along, you do start to get more of their Folk Metal roots shining through. There seems to be a real shift starting with “Herald of Aegir,” which really hits those Ensiferum/Wintersun notes, with speedy, galloping riffs, and epic backing orchestrations that make the sound absolutely massive. Not that guitarists Joona Bjorkroth (also of Battle Beast) or Sean Haslam were by any stretch of the imagination holding back prior to this track, but the riffs they throw down during the bridge and solo are absolute units built to throw you to the ground and flatten you. Mixed with those orchestrations, I’m ready to run straight through a giant sequoia on my way to leap into a raging torrent and catch a mighty salmon with my bare teeth.”Landfall” continues the more folk-forward festivities, starting with a huge chorus of vocals that just beg for an audience to sing along with, before barreling into a tremolo-picked frenzy – creating a great, intoxicating juxtaposition of fun and fury that carries through until final track “All As One.”

On “Borderland,” the band again shows a great knack for creating memorable, sing-along moments, this time with a great little sort-of thrashy breakdown with syncopated, barking vocals that sound like a group of heathen warriors getting ready to sack a village and burn the whole thing to the ground. I’m ready to go to war with Canada all by myself. But the vocal majesty of that track doesn’t even hold a candle to the outrageously catchy “Far From Home,” which brings back some of the Soilwork influence heard earlier on in the album,  while effectively blending super folky vocal patterns through the chorus. If not the lyrics, the vocal melody itself will be stuck in your head in absolutely no time at all.

The album ends on a bonus cover of Dark Funeral‘s “Diabolis Interium,” which, despite my relatively meh attitude towards cover songs on albums, is actually pretty dang impressive! I still don’t really find it necessary, especially given how beautifully the epic “All As One” wraps up Voices in the Sky, but kudos where they’re due for pulling off such a fantastic and somewhat unexpected tribute. If nothing else, it matches the high-volume energy of the rest of the album, which is really it’s biggest strength. It compels you through sheer force to keep listening  until you find yourself mindlessly and randomly humming the melodies throughout the day. If Melodeath truly is back for real, I pray we keep getting efforts like this one from Brymir, because Voices in the Sky sounds anything but tired. It’s here for the kill.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Steve K
September 28th, 2022

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