By the Light of the Northern Star

My introduction to Tyr came a few years back when I was asked to take on Eric the Red. I’d read rave reviews about it all over the Web, but personally, I was unimpressed. In all honesty, I found the record fairly boring. It’s been a while since that review, and I really hadn’t thought much else about the band from the Faroe Islands. Now, I’m faced with their latest, By the Light of the Northern Star. Maybe they’ve changed or maybe it’s the fact that I’ve been enjoying a lot more folk metal lately, but whatever the case, this record is a completely different experience.

By the Light of the Northern Star grabbed me instantly with the majestic opening riff of “Hold the Heathen Hammer High” which morphed into a blazing power metal-influenced lick. But the icing on the cake is the chorus, which is just killer – chest-pounding, testosterone-driven bravado delivered with an infectious melody. “Trondor I Gotu” keeps the winning streak going with a great guitar riff after the opening chanting. The verse of the song brings in the first hint of 1980s rock influence that will get bigger later in the album. (Not to worry, they haven’t gone hairy, but there are certainly some more commercial threads running through some of the tracks.)

That ’80s sound is most noticeable on the opening of “Northern Gate,” which opens with a big sing-along style chant that will return throughout the song. The tune, like a few others here, has a very heavy Manowar vibe to it. That’s most notable on “By the Sword in My Hand,” which with Eric Adams on vocals would practically be a Manowar tune. That doesn’t stop it from being one of the better moments on the record, though, with that huge, warrior-metal chorus.

Things taper off a bit after that track, though. “Ride” has a bit too much of the 1980s influence in it for my tastes. “Hear the Heathen Call” and the title track aren’t bad songs, but they don’t stand up to the songs that came earlier on the album.

The record closes with two brief instrumentals which are both quite nice. “The Northern Lights” is an acoustic folk number, and I’m a sucker for those. It’s a well-done piece that just doesn’t last long enough. “Anthem” is a more bombastic classical-influenced number in the vein of Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

One problem that I had with Eric the Red was in the vocal department, but there are no problems here. Heri Joensen’s vocals are spot-on for the style, as are all of the instruments. In fact, I’ve got no complaints at all with By the Light of the Northern Star. I think I’ll have to go back and check out the last few to see what I might have missed.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Fred Phillips
September 2nd, 2009


  1. Commented by: mike

    Skip their previous album Land, but definitely check out Ragnarok.

  2. Commented by: ceno

    Yes, Ragnarok is great, their most progressive album I would say. Land is good, but the new one is awesome and will most probably end up pretty high on my list.

  3. Commented by: Blackwater Park

    Land is fucking AWESOME! Don’t skip it at all. I actually enjoy it more than the new one, which is undeniably fantastic. Ragnarock is the weakest of the newest 3 albums, but still a great album too.

  4. Commented by: ceno

    In other words, the last three albums are a musthave for anyone who liked at least one of them. And mighty Ragnarok is the strongest of the three, brother :lol:

  5. Commented by: Erik Thomas

    Much better live than on record- the clean vocal harmonies are amazing.

  6. Commented by: Blackwater Park

    No, no, Land is the best. Thats just the way it is.

    Did I mention that if my son Odin Fire Springer has a little brother, we’re naming him “Tyr Ocean Springer”? The song “Ocean” off of Land will be his own personal soundtrack. :lol: :cool:

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