Tyr Valkyrja

The sound and style of Týr's seventh full-length record — the sweeping ballads, stirring battle songs and driving riffs dovetailing with Faroese folk melodies — will be very familiar to fans of the power metal group. What sets Valkyrja apart from the rest of their efforts is its structure. Valkyrja is a concept record, tracing the story of a Viking warrior who leaves his partner in an attempt to win the attention of the goddess Freya and the Valkyries, thereby winning his place in Valhalla. It's not only this strong narrative backbone that defines the record, but also the subject matter — where you might expect numbers about the glory of battle and epic quests (though we get those as well), the vast majority of the numbers are about the Viking warrior's relationships with women. "Mare of My Night" is downright sexy, with Heri Joensen employing a slyly seductive tone in his clean singing, while "Hel Hath No Fury" concerns the dangers of raising the ire of women, both human and goddess. "The Lay of Our Love" is a romantic, but not soppy, duet with Liv Kristine (Leaves' Eyes) and "Lady of the Slain" is a soaring, powerful tribute to an equally strong woman. While the substance may be the same, with Týr's signature sound wholly intact, through the content and the structure, Valkyrja represents a step forward for the group. (Metal Blade)