Thyrfing - Hels Vite
Regain Records
Epic Blackened Metal
7 songs (51'59")
Release year: 2009
Thyrfing, Regain Records
Reviewed by Alex

Rereading my contributions to this site I just realized that I like Jens Ryden as a black metal vocalist. Truthfully, I do, first him fronting Naglfar, going symphonic on Dead Silent Slumber and finally birthing Profundi. In fact, on that last project Jens did everything himself, down to the cover art, and in some interviews he professed not to be in the band again as he had his own vision to fulfill. I guess the itch of doing it alone subsided when close Swedish neighbors Thyrfing called, having themselves lost the singer (Thomas Vaananen) and one of the guitarists (Henrik Svegsjo). I was curious about how this Norse union would sound ever since the announcement came out. Who is going to influence who the most?

In the end, Hels Vite presents a new incarnation of Thyrfing, into which Jens fits comfortably and which transformation he did not cause. The album is by far the band’s darkest and heaviest effort. Hels Vite songs are very steady, proceeding at about the same, medium, pace, centered around repeating pounding riffs. The band is focused on this dark epic atmosphere and is disciplined, almost to a fault, in its songwriting. Decidedly gone are the folk days and clean lines of Urkraft, and what used to be much closer to Mithotyn and Einherjer today sounds like the most Ragnarok moments from the latest Moonsorrow. Thyrfing rarely speeds up, Isolation having a quick smattering of blast, and even the album’s harshest song, Becoming the Eye, is a lot more doom than polka. Whatever the band lost in crafty musicianship and tasty guitar vignettes, it gained in impending sense of foreboding disaster. The whole album has a sense of gloom and inevitability hanging over the listener. Repeating parts and unvarying tempo may create monotonous impression, but immerse yourself into the riffs and deep hovering melody, like in the beginning of Griftefrid, and you might start to grasp the mood Thyrfing was in while composing Hels Vite. The album does not completely abandon the acoustics, the Swedes blending in some clean guitar in Från Stormens Öga and Tre Vintrar - Två Solar, but it is Peter Lof’s synthesizers which are now more responsible for melody (En Sista Litania) and atmosphere (Från Stormens Öga), sometimes invoking trumpet-like effect (Isolation), while surviving guitarist Patrick Lindgren is concentrating on rhythms.

Jens Ryden manages to be his demonic self even without Dissection/Naglfar blistering speed. In a span of one phrase he can low growl and rise to a demented scream (Griftefrid, Från Stormens Öga), or turn from a storytelling scald into a berserker with a dry cackle (Isolation). And whenever he whispers, over the top of piano and acoustics, he just sounds penetratingly evil. Most importantly, he blends into Hels Vite organically. It was that organic sound Thyrfing most obviously tried to create, even if in the process they muddied up the drums.

The opinions will differ, but Hels Vite is not the band’s best nor is it their worst moment. This album is just plain different from what the band had done in the past, it will catch many by surprise. If you embrace this notion, the epic grandeur of Hels Vite is bound to rock your senses.

Killing Songs :
Från Stormens Öga, Isolation, Tre Vintrar - Två Solar
Alex quoted 79 / 100
Other albums by Thyrfing that we have reviewed:
Thyrfing - Farsotstider reviewed by Alex and quoted 76 / 100
Thyrfing - Vansinnesvisor reviewed by Jack and quoted 85 / 100
Thyrfing - Urkraft reviewed by Danny and quoted 60 / 100
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