Swedes shift towards more consistent style and it pays off
Stockholm (Sweden) is not your average metal breeding ground. Understatement of... well, forever really. But even when those from such a prominent area undergo a line-up change that involves a vocalist, there is always uncertainty associated with it from a fans perspective. The 2007 departure of vocalist Thomas Väänänen and guitarist Henrik Svegsjö would be the source of concern for fans of Thyrfing. Sure enough though, the vocalist spot was filled by Naglfar growler Jens Rydén (alongside guitarist Patrik Lindgren, bassist Kimmy Sjolund, drummer Joakim Kristensson and synth player Peter Lof), and things were back on track for the group's latest effort, Hels Vite.
Whilst their sound might have been evolving and/or maturing since the days of 2000's Urkraft, it really was 2006's Farsotstider and now Hels Vite that show the Thyrfing's musical stance solidifying as more viking and less folk oriented. The opening one-two combo En Sista Litania and Frän Stormens Öga are proof of that as they plod along at a medium pace with the occasional tempo change up which is anything but distracting. Even the orchestral aspects of the quicker Isolation lend themselves more to a viking soundtrack than some folk inspired tangent.
The title track, Hels Vite, is very Bathory influenced - which is never a bad thing in my books - it swings effortlessly to a simple beat over the course of eight odd minutes through different moods again akin to what latter day Bathory did as well. Griftefrid slows things down a touch and by this point, Rydén's performance is not even in question as his sinister growl is as dark as the music behind it. Don't let the tribal drumming that kicks off Becoming The Eye fool you - it's soon down to business as usual before the stellar closing effort, Tre Vintrar - Tvä Solar, makes damn fine use of subtle choirs to really add to the viking flavour.
Thyrfing aren't breaking new ground and they certainly aren't laying to waste the likes of Bathory but they are doing a solid job through and through. Fans maybe hesitate thanks to the line-up changes, but rest assured all is smooth sailing on the evil ship Thyrfing.
(Regain Records/Riot! Entertainment)