Adding to an already stellar year for Candlelight (and it’s only March!), comes the fifth album from Viking metal stalwarts Thyrfing, who with Vansinnesvisor took a far darker, more foreboding, death metal take on the traditionally pompous Viking metal. However, with Farsotstider (Times of Plague), Thyrfing seem to have found some balance. That’s not to say Farsotstider is a return to Valda Galga or Urkraft‘s peppy beer hall cheese, but there’s a distinctly heavier presence of more “Viking” elements (synths, choirs, strings, chord progressions), though still delivered in a more brooding, gritty form.Farsotstider kicks off where Vansinnesvisor left of with “Far at Helvete” and its menacing, angular death metal lurch, though lightly flocked with keyboards and haunting vocals. Whereas most Viking metal imbues images of fireplace reveling, Thyrfing manage to conjure starker images of somber, rain soaked warriors marching solemnly off to war. “Jag Spar Fordarv” continues the stoic tone, but has a more up front, synth based Viking gait lurking underneath, and its lumbering climax is as Dwarves pounding feverishly away at some magical forge. It’s not until the title track that you get a sense of a more bouncy, synth laden jaunt and more recognizable Viking metal canter. Arguably the album’s best track, “Host” features a riff in the chorus that is pure Viking heaven while still retaining the band’s darker visage. I”ll admit that “Sjalavrak” and “Elddagjamning” passed by without fanfare, being more convoluted, though “Elddagjamning” closes with a nice epic climax. “Baldersbalet” gets the quality of material back up again with a slow, precise, stalking pace that effortlessly morphs into a stout death metal romp. Closer “Tiden Laker Intet,” with its angular orchestration and solemn choirs ends the album on a suitably fitting note that sees a perfect balance of grim,, sneering metal and epic heathenry.

The production is identical to Vansinnesvisor, and if you can�t tell, you need to be fluent in Swedish to process the lyrics. Thomas Vaananen has a highly effective rasp, that while it fitted Vansinnesvisor‘s themes of lunacy, seems a little too extreme for this more tempered release. Still, Farsotstider is a fine addition to Thyrfing’s catalog and Viking metal as a whole, especially seeing as the genre as a whole has been pretty barren of late.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
March 9th, 2006


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