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Requiem

Thyrfing

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I think the title of this forum: 'Folk Metal' has been putting me off posting here, but some of my all time favourite bands and albums are in the viking/pagan/folk metal genres. It's time to talk about one of the greatest bands in the world, Sweden's Thyrfing. 

Requiem's Ranking of Thyrfing's Albums from Christian Missionary (Worst) to Drunk in Valhalla (Best)

7. Hels Vite (2008)

My facetious ranking title is a bit misleading, as there is no bad Thyrfing album. But my least favourite would be this, the first album with new singer Jens Ryden. There is definitely a lot going on here that is enjoyable, but it's part of the band's move away from the viking tropes of their earlier albums into a more straightforward, less historic(?) atmosphere, almost as if they're trying to grow up or at least become a bit tougher. Jens' voice is cool and everything, but the magic of the old material isn't really here and I find myself sometimes zoning out while listening to it. Jens' voice is just a bit too generic. Pretty average album cover with a white theme and - what? - zombies coming out of the ground? Hmmm...

6. De Odeslosa (2013)

The second Jens Ryden album came out five years after 'Hels Vite', and it's much better. The riffs are really good here and the keyboards have a little more presence, although the old days are well and truly over. They're a keyboard band when they're at their best, and it's a crime to bury Peter Lof's great work under the guitars. Further line-up changes may have had a destabilising effect - but overall this is a very nice album. Again, not very 'viking' in flavour, but everyone was moving away from the swords-and-shields imagery of yesteryear, much to my disappointment. All of this 'grown up' music from serious musicians... I want more battles and sound effects! Anyway... Very nice cover of a green and white smokey thing. Not sure what it is but it looks nice. 

5. Valdr Galga (1999)

Speaking of battles and sound effects. Now we're talking. The second album is pure viking metal. Big keyboard sounds merge with the riffage and the most underrated vocalist in metal, Thomas Vaananen, embodies the voice of the northland. Some of this album feels a little unexciting at times, and their sound would develop further, but it's a fun album for sure. Killer album cover in the form of a slightly awkward drawing of a viking seated at table with his men. 

4. Thyrfing (1998)

The debut album is brilliant, if a little quaint and underdeveloped, especially in terms of production. The blueprint is laid down here, with Peter Lof's keyboards up front, and the focus in on viking themes quite explicitly, which would be gradually chipped away on later albums as they became darker. The last track 'Going Berserk' is fantastic, and the whole album is good old fashioned unpolished viking enthusiasm. The album cover is a pretty hilarious drawing, but a cult piece depicting longships, lightning and a viking holding a sword aloft. 

3. Farsotstider (2005)

Thomas Vaananen's last album with the band was a huge shift from their sound. Gone were the melodious keyboards and piping viking jiggery, and present was a slow, heavy, riffing darkness. The opening track 'Far at Helvete' (Go to Hell) is freaking amazing, with some of Vaananen's greatest vocals. Listen to his voice here - the desperation and honesty is just amazing. All the main viking bands were moving away from traditional viking metal themes at this point, and Thyrfing followed suit, which really disappointed me at first, but once the album sunk in I was, and remain, hooked. Simple yet effective album cover that matches the darkness of the music. 

2. Urkraft (2000)

Viking metal's heyday around this time. The first track, 'Mjolner', is possibly the greatest viking metal song ever written. When I first heard it just after this album came out I couldn't believe it - if you haven't heard it, check it out. This is one of the all time classic albums of the genre and the name of the game was melody, atmosphere and the viking imagery that a lot of bands have sort of turned their back on these days. The band also introduce some clean vocals from time to time as well, which work so beautifully. 'Mjolner', what a track. Album cover is a nice shot of the ocean and a cloudy sky with a cool hand-drawn border around it. 

1. Vansinnesvisor (2002)

LIke most of my lists, the number one album of any given band is essentially a representative of my favourite all time albums. This album is amazing. It's got a bit more grit and energy compared to 'Urkraft', and there's some darkness going on here too without losing the melodic thrust of the band. They've really tapped into something special. The one-two of openers 'Draugs Harg' and 'Digerdoden' (the latter with the greatest viking metal chorus ever, apart from Tyr) are unstoppable pagan onslaughts that move me deeply, while songs like 'The Voyager' just speak to the essence of viking culture through metal music. I've said it before and I'm saying it now, Thomas Vaananen is an absolutely miracle and should be worshipped by everyone. A word on the album artwork and booklet - it's well worth purchasing the CD version of this album as the artwork and band member shots in the booklet are probably as good as anything I've seen before, showing the guys out in the forest in middle ages clothing. Check out Peter Lof next to that mushroom. I'm just amazed. 10/10 album. All time classic. 

Any fans of the mighty Thyrfing out there? One of metal's great underrated bands. 

 

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