Viking metal may not inspire the legions of stalwarts that it once did but with bands like Thyrfing still unleashing their killer pagan metal, there’s plenty of life left in the long-boats. Unbeknownst to some, this quintet of Swedish Viking metal devotees has been shaping their idiosyncratic metal for over 20 years and their latest release, Vanagandr, is their eighth album and their best to date. Sadly, it feels like Thyrfing have never really gotten the plaudits that they have fully deserved but with Vanagandr, all that may change!
The album title comes from an alternative name for the wolf Fenrir of Norse mythology and the cover art, by astonishing artist Niklas Sundin, captures the massive scale of the album. With 8 songs entirely sung in Swedish, and a duration of 50 minutes, Vanagandr captures the majesty of classic Nordic metal and furthers the genre.
To truly appreciate why Thyrfing is currently Viking metal’s best band you’ll have to see their videos released for Vanagandr – as they are perfect visual representations of the band’s modus operandi. The video for the song “Döp dem i eld” (“Baptism In Fire”) is as raging a performance and as over-the-top as a great metal video should be – it’s chock-full of flames, smoke, and a band dressed for metal war on their dark and fiery soundstage. The video was directed by the renowned Patric Ullaeus who’s famed for directing videos by In Flames, Dimmu Borgir, Enslaved and many others. For the song “Jornhand”, the video is much of the same but it’s shot on location in front of an ancient fortress.
Obviously with an album this amazing, the musicianship is top notch and the song structures are varied and somewhat complex without indulging in prog rock excesses like Enslaved (who are amazing left the Viking metal genre a long time ago). The varied harsh vocal styles of prevailing singer Jens Ryden (who also once fronted Swedish black metal band Naglfar) adds to the intensity and dynamics of Thyrfing’s sound. It’s an aggressive album but also has uplifting and memorable melodies and epic choruses.
It’s entirely possible that Thyrfing have put out a perfect metal album. Likely scribes around the globe will see the fiery light of the band’s metal flame and one can only hope that the masses will embrace Vanagandr the way we do. No matter what the metal detractors think, Thyrfing have created an epic work of metal art. 10/10
Thyfing‘s Vanagandr was released on August 27th, 2021 via Despotz Records.