What a colourful album! Already the cover looks way too colourful, doesn’t it? And just have a look at the half-naked guys on the back cover – how pretentious can it get? This is the new band of TÝR-vocalist Heri Joensen, you say? Ah, so this is surely one of the many, many new wannabe pagan metal bands with some pretty superficial links to Northern mythology and with the same old easily danceable melodies and stolen hook lines whose music is meant to create an atmosphere to kill as much booze and feel as “viking” as possible…
One might think so – and will be mistaken. When I first met TYR and did an interview with Heri back in 2003, his band was still on the small Faeroese true crossover label Tutl Records and TÝR appeared to me as a more or less straight metal band mainly inspired by the Sabbath albums of the Tony Martin era and their own folk music. Few years later TÝR had no real chance to escape the pagan metal wave, and surely it wasn’t to the worst for them on the level of sales and reputation as a good live band.
Now Heri presents his new band HELJAREYGA and as with TYR, he has once more gathered musicians around him who know how to handle and to play on their instruments. This fact alone makes HELJAREYGA stand apart from many contemporary “happy” pagan metal bands, although the Faeroese men play many uplifting, positive melodies as well. If you don’t like guitar solos, clear vocals, traditional speed metal influences, you’ll hate this album with its five long and guitar-wise brilliantly arranged songs (the drums seem quite uninspired in comparison). But if you want to hear a young band playing classic metal including epic arrangements (r.i.p. Gary Moore) with a fresh touch of personally invented folk melodies, you should give this debut a listen!
In the end it always depends on the perspective: for a homo metalpaganus neanderthalensis this will be a bit too avant-garde, for the avant-garde metal fan HELJAREYGA might sound a bit too much like Blind Guardian, but as all of us shall sooner or later cross the rainbow bridge, some colours won’t hurt us now, will they?
01 – Regnið
02 – Heljareyga
03 – Lagnan
04 – Feigdin
05 – Vetrarbreytin