As much of a fan of Faroese Viking metal act Tyr and frontman Henri Joensen that I am, I was excited to finally hear a CD/retail version of his side project, Heljareyga, which has been available digitally since February. With Tyr becoming a bit more streamlined and catchy on By the Light of the Northern Star, fans of earlier TyrLand and Eric the Red―will no doubt be excited as Heljareyga (hel’ eye) is a return to the sprawling, progressive pastures of those albums.

That being said, I’m not really sure of the need for this act if you own all of Tyr’s albums. Joensen’s signature voice (singing exclusively in Faroese) and the distinctly early Tyr-structures, its virtually impossible to distinguish Heljareyga from Tyr ― even if the new band uses only explicitly new arrangements rather than traditional Faroese music.

With only five songs and a running time of 48-minutes, Heljareyga isn’t an instant easy listen with the rangy, complex songs―all hovering around the ten minute mark―that simply meld into one super long foray into progressive, folk tinged metal.

It’s not so much about war marches and violent clashes of steel, but a more restrained, artful and poetic delivery. There’s no rousing choruses like “Hold the Heathen Hammer High” or soaring layered vocals of “Sinklars Visa” or stirring traditional pieces. Instead, there’s a steady stream of generally upbeat noodling and riffage littered with lots of acoustic bridges, lengthy solos and more convoluted, stuttering structures. It’s all played with expected passion and skill, full of Joensen‘s evocative croons. The songs wind and wander with aplomb, but by the same token, they don’t really go anywhere or do they truly peak.

Tracks like “Heljareyga”, “Lagnan”, and “Vetrarbreytin” have a hard time grabbing me. First and foremost, they seem to showcase the band’s undeniable skill, rather than develop into actual, enjoyable songs: They play more like the background music to an SCA-event, rather than draw you into a world of stern warriors, pillaging and general testosterone.  On the other hand, they do sort of become an extension to Tyr and most of all, Joensen. Thus, die hard fans will certainly appreciate this release but personally, I’ll simply wait for the next Tyr album.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
December 29th, 2010


  1. Commented by: Grimulfr

    Being one of the few that does not like the past few Tyr albums I did not even look at this release. Thanks, passed on this review I’ll be giving it a try.

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