Review by Denis on December 23, 2002.
Not being familiar with Thyrfing, I was far from knowing what to expect with their music. The information I received, including their biography, described their art as metal with a northern touch, folk and symphonic influences, epic keyboards, etc. Sounds good to me! But wait, that's not all. This album just gets better as you listen to it. You uncover the treasures hidden in the magnificent world of epic, symphonic Viking metal. Nothing is left aside to demonstrate what these Swedish musicians are all about. From the torturous cover art to the barbarian photo session inside the booklet, these guys sure have their way of showing what they are: proud Viking warriors!
Everything on this album is loud and clear mostly due to the top-notch production work of Daniel Bergstrand (Devin Townsend, Meshuggah). That doesn't necessarily mean raw and pure aggressiveness without melodies though. These warriors are intelligent enough to add strategic musical subtleties to conquer a wider range of metal starved souls. Among the strategies they use are colorful and symphonic keyboards, fiddle, sampling, choirs, clean vocal appearances and more.
For example, ‘Digerdoden’ is a song that uses those strategic elements. It presents itself in a slow pace, great black metal vocals, superb riffs, pounding drums, and a grand choir. All of this is spiced up with gorgeous keyboard parts. This song, as with most of the numbers, is sung completely in Swedish and if you have read some of my past reviews you know that to me, foreign language in music simply adds a touch of mysticism to the piece. So, as far as I'm concerned it's a plus. On the other hand, two pieces are in English and ‘The Voyager’ is one of them. It starts with fiddle to introduce some great doom guitar parts, and its royal following of symphonic parts, excellent melodic lines, clean backing vocals for the chorus, contrasting with the omnipresent ferocious singing of Thomas, all this ending on a rather thrilling way. Dear people, this is definitely one stand out track. On ‘Vansinnesvisan’ you'll be on your knees telling yourself that you're not worthy. Joining in the celebration are goodies like tribal percussions, mysterious symphonic keys, intricate rhythmic section, changes of mode, and tempo. This other great piece is pretty adventurous and progressive, thus demonstrating excellent musicianship. After an acoustic intro, the barbarian side of Thyrfing returns on the closing song before the adventure of these proud Vikings ends in a traditional Northern way.
Bottom Line: Thyrfing is bound to gather a large crowd of followers with their refreshing musical adventure.
Categorical Rating Breakdown
Rating: 9.6 out of 10
Review by Krys on October 16, 2002.
Even though their last album “Urkraft” didn’t make my list of the best albums of 2000, it was with incomprehensible excitement that I was awaiting Thyrfing’s 4th release, “Vansinnesvisor”, smelling something extraordinary and unique. I spied it on the record shelves, and after gleefully popping into my CD player I sit here after weeks of non-stop pounding it on my home stereo, walkman and work’s jukebox.
In one sentence, “Vansinnesvisor” (English meaning “Songs of Madness” or “Tunes of Lunacy”) is an ultimate Viking metal record that blows competition away with an impact compared to the stroke of an ancient warrior’s sword going through its victim’s throat. Nothing, I repeat, nothing on this record is short of a pure brilliance. Vocally, Thomas Vaananen deliveries performance of his life. What puts him above the horde of vocalists is not only the ease of use of different vocal styles but passion, dedication and style in which he delivers it. Even though out of 8 songs only 2 are in English I already had my throat worn to shreds until I got to ‘The Voyager’ (first track in English, 4th overall) screaming from the top of my lungs anything that I could come up with at the moment. When ‘The Voyager’ hit I just spat out the blood from my lungs and started all over again. I’m not sure if it is because for the first time I could actually scream something that I could understand; but to this day this track is my personal favorite. Right behind, equally amazing stand the rest of the songs; from most intense and aggressive track in Thyrfing discography 'Draugs Harg' through atmospheric 'Ångestens Högborg' to epic, classical guitar closing 'Kaos Återkomst' “Vansinnesvisor” amazes with diversity but still holds the mystical feeling.
Daniel Bergstrand’s first class production blends all instruments into an immense wall of sound where heavy guitars play the first role perfectly accompanied by subtle keyboards, orchestral arrangements, keyed fiddle and all kinds of additional samplings. Darker and a lot more aggressive than Thyrfing previous efforts “Vansinnesvisor” stands tall above not only anything they’ve done in the past but everything that this genre had to offer.
Bottom Line: This one is for the ages. If one day you don’t want to wake up nursing an axe in your back I suggest an immediate visit in your local record store. You don’t want to piss off the mighty gods after all, do you?
Categorical Rating Breakdown
Rating: 10 out of 10