By Brandon McNeil
CALGARY — Týr is a folk metal four-piece hailing from the Faroese Islands, an autonomous, self-governing country situated halfway between Norway and Iceland. The band is at least partly responsible for many of the tropes within folk thanks to their inception in 1998 when the genre was just forming, even though they may not feel that way.
“There’s these terms: Viking metal, pagan metal, folk metal…I don’t always keep very much up with who calls which band what,” counters front man Heri Joensen, who are regardless on the forefront of the genre. Týr now has a full seven studio albums filled with ‘80s style traditional metal and power metal troupes coupled with the driving melodies of ‘90s Swedish death metal and sprinkled with folk progressions, backing choir vocals and tremolo picked riffs. Joensen’s tales of Nordic and Faroese lore ties it together.
For example, the band’s songs include “The Hammer of Thor” and “Eric the Red,” chronicling the renowned Nordic explorer who was said to be the first of his people to settle in Greenland. More controversially, they wrote “Shadow of the Swastika,” a song from 2011’s The Lay of Thrym. It questions if the offspring of those who’ve committed atrocities should be punished for their parents’ crimes and was intended to lambast some critics’ tendencies to associate folk metal with Nazi Germany. Indeed, charges were leveled against the band and other acts performing at Paganfest in 2008 by the Berlin Institute for Research and Fascism Anti-Fascist Action. At the time, the group accused bands of being neo-Nazis due to their historical subject matter and the usage of runes in their stylized namesakes. The band issued a video statement alongside Moonsorrow to unambiguously refute all charges. They specified that they stand “on anti-racist positions” and declared “music without hate and violence.” The issue has long since passed, and the band continues on their trajectory with pride.
“I’m never going to run out of material in my lifetime. Common Nordic folklore and, at some point, common Northern European folklore that has been preserved, in large part, only in the Faroese,” explains Joensen, who continued this lyrical focus on the band’s seventh album, Valkyrja (2013). He concludes, “I’ve always been interested in Faroese and Nordic lore and folk music.”
Watch Týr with Eluveitie and Metsatöll on Saturday, October 11 at the MacEwan Hall Ballroom.
AB, Alberta, folk metal, MacEwan Hall Ballroom, Tyr