Let’s cut straight to the point. TYR is about to release a brand new album called Hel. I was excited to dive into this album as I am a fan of this band. They have always been a one-of-a-kind band with their unique style and approach to songwriting, and that’s something I’ve been craving lately. I charged through the gates of Hel to find myself oddly surprised and somewhat confused at what I heard. So let’s discuss this attractive oddity.
I will go ahead and say this and get it over with. Hel reminds me of Amon Amarth. Let me clarify this statement and explain myself. I honestly thought I was crazy for thinking this until another respected member of our team pointed this out as well. So here is the million dollar question. What makes this album remind me of Amon Amarth? I think production and guitar tones are the culprits, as well as a few guitar riffs here and there. An excellent example of this is the opening riff to the track “Garmr.” The distortion and style of the riff sound something you would find in any recent Amon Amarth album. The opening track “Gates of Hel” kicks into overdrive and features growling vocals and various patterns of alternate guitar picking that could easily find it’s way into Deceiver of the Gods. I will end this by saying that I’m not saying this screams Amon Amarth. I’m saying that I find similarities in the two, and that’s not farfetched considering that they are label mates and are rooted in Viking/Norse Mythology. Hel is a TYR album, and they do the TYR thing very well.
Don’t let that take away from how awesome this album is. I called it an oddity earlier, and that’s because TYR sound like a matured version of what they’ve always been, but they have taken blatant influences and morphed them into something new and fresh. I’ve always thought TYR was great, but I think Hel is probably my favorite record from their discography. The variety of the tracks blows me away. The guitar riffing is masterful. The drums are fast and precise. The production serves Hel well, and everything is mixed to perfection. I have to say that the first half is extremely strong, but it fizzles out towards the last few tracks of the album. That being said, I am comfortable in saying that Hel is probably the most ambitious endeavor in their 20+ year career.
My personal favorite tracks are “Gates of Hel” and “Downhill Drunk.” Both of these tracks have catchy choruses that I find myself humming all of the time. “Empire of the North” is another track that is stunning. That intro riff gets me pumped up and ready to fight something that is most likely to kick my ass. I also have to point out that the track “Ragnars Kvaedi” has no problem in making me look like a fool as I attempt to belt out some jibberish that sounds nothing like Heri’s incredible voice. One of their slower tracks called “Sunset Shore” demonstrates and showcases the band’s willingness to re-visit their past and offer fan service to their most loyal followers. The music video they released for this particular tracks is pretty cool as well. It has freaking caves.
In conclusion, Hel is simply amazing. I never thought I would ever say that. It’s very lengthy and chocked full of tasty guitar riffing and catchy vocals. This album might remind you of Amon Amarth at times, but it’s nothing to be too concerned about because of everything they do that is absolutely “them” to the core. The variety and quality of the songwriting are possibly the best of their career so far.
Go over to Metalblade records and pick up the LP. It was released on March 8th, 2019.
Check out more info about TYR.