The genre called "viking metal" begins to lose some of its meaning when one realizes it has, rightly or wrongly, been applied to bands as diverse as AMON AMARTH and FALKENBACH. Yet in the case of Sweden's THYRFING it is hard to argue with it, at least from the standpoint of lyrical content and the rugged, old-world feel that the folk-laced mix of death and black metal conveys. Regardless of descriptors, THYRFING is one of metal's best kept secrets (at least in U.S.), perhaps in part due to the band's decision to sing the majority of its lyrics in Swedish. In fact, whereas 2002's excellent "Vannsinnesvisor" included a couple tracks penned in English, the lyrics on new masterpiece "Farsotstider" are written entirely in Swedish. Regardless, don't let that deter you from experiencing one of the more unique extreme music bands on the planet.Compared to its predecessor, "Farsotstider" utilizes fewer keyboards and effects, making its riffs seem thicker and its rhythms more muscular. We're talking in relative terms of course, as keyboards and folky flourishes continue to be found along THYRFING's rich and furrowed terrain. Many songs are characterized by the kind of rolling riffs and churning tempos one might hear on an album by PRIMORDIAL, the effect often a vaguely hypnotic one. "Far Åt Helvete" with a jagged riff-march and, for lack of a better term, monk-like chanting that closes the song. Basic, yet enthralling piano key-strikes add a darkly elegant tone to the chunky chords of "Jag Spår Fördärv" (as do the brief acoustic guitar bits). The melodic folk singing in one section of the title track is breathtaking. "Baldersbålet" combines its sizeable six-string girth with a sweet melody on the chorus, while the majestic (synth-produced) strings, choral lines, and folky ambience of eight-minute album closer "Tiden Läker Intet" make it the album's epic capstone. And we've really only scratched the surface here, as "Farsotstider" offers so many examples of THYRFING's uncanny ability to blend the majestic and the heavy. Hidden treasures are found with each trip through the album's eight interesting arrangements. Isn't it about time you introduced the music of THYRFING to your collection?
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