Ten Years #28: Týr

Decade of last.fm scrobbling countdown:
28. Týr (1,101 plays)
Top track (75 plays): Hail to the Hammer, from various albums
Featured track: Regin Smiður, from Eric the Red (2003)

Viking metal, pagan metal, folk metal, call it what you will–it’s pretty impressive that Týr have managed to capture an extraordinary vision of the Norse past with absolutely no traditional instrumentation or synth choruses to speak of save the human voice. Since their second album, Eric the Red, Týr have revolved around Heri Joensen’s breathtaking vocals. Their unique brand of progressive rock instrumentation is heavy enough to blast out your stereo and yet entirely subservient to the driving vocal anthems. I would be very interested to gain a better understanding of where Joensen’s dedication to tradition gives way to his unique creativity as one of the most innovative musicians making music today–of the extent to which his vocals are derived from Faroese tradition. With an educational background in both vocals and Indo-European linguistics, he probably has a better idea than most of how traditional Germanic and Norse singing must have sounded, and I feel a sense of solidarity between the band and other students of folk vocalization such as Latvia’s Skyforger. At the same time, I gather that Norse musical tradition is a far more elusive beast than its eastern counterparts.

As a modern band, Týr seem to me the most central act of the whole “viking metal” scene. The term is a bit of a ruse, in so far as it lacks both the stylistic conformity of most genre labels and the acknowledged generality of catch-alls like “folk metal”. Whether a band might garner the label depends upon so many nuance factors that it is much easier to agree upon which acts ought to receive it than to discuss why. Attempts to properly define it are few and far between. The Wikipedia article on “viking metal”, for instance, is largely substantiated by a thesis on folk metal submitted by Aaron Patrick Mulvany in 2000. That is only 12 years removed from Bathory’s Blood Fire Death–now a quarter of a century behind us–and two years prior to one of the most significant bands of the “genre”‘s debut. With the utmost respect for anyone who acknowledges folk metal as a legitimate subject for scholarship (I’m looking forward to reading Mulvany’s thesis, available online, over the next few days), I would ascribe to him the gift of prophecy were it not hopelessly dated. But while I would say that Bathory was fundamentally black metal, Amon Amarth death metal at their core, Falkenbach hopelessly under-appreciated, and Thyrfing given to fantasy, the inherent catch-all-ism of progressive metal (not the Dream Theater worship standardized derivative) lends to Týr a sense of authentic originality. As a metal act they do their own thing, and that makes their tradition-influenced vocals and lyrics emerge with no strings attached.

Týr’s music is neither too confrontational nor too fanciful to be generally accessible. They are, in the very least, the first band I would recommend to an inexperienced listener who asked me what specifically Norse-derived folk metal sounded like. Their sound bleeds an authentic scholarly interest in Norse culture and plugs the myriad gaps with progressive rock that is both down to earth and impressively original. You’ll find no fallback to Tolkien here (album cover aside), and no hell-raising or Transylvanian hunger either; it’s something a bit more Apollonian, and exciting all the same. If I could pick any one artist to spend an evening in a pub with, Heri Joensen may very well top my list.

Trailer: The Dallas Buyer’s Club


A lot of people, like me, felt that Matthew McConaughey deserved an Oscar nomination earlier this year for his performance in Killer Joe.  It looks like he’ll get a second chance this year with his performances in both Mud and the upcoming Dallas Buyer’s Club, the trailer of which can be found below.

Trailer: All The Boys Love Mandy Lane

PCASAccording to this trailer, All The Boys Love Mandy Lane is “finally” going to give horror fans “what they’ve been asking for.”

So, I guess the question now is — what exactly have we been asking for?  Myself, I know that I just want a genuinely scary film that features interesting (and occasionally, even intelligent) characters and is intense enough to be get under my skin without descending to the level of torture porn.  I also know that I’ve been asking for more films that are not a part of the whole found footage genre.  Also, as far as slasher movies are concerned, I prefer female characters who fight back as opposed to just running and screaming.

If All The Boys Love Mandy Lane can deliver on that, then it’ll definitely be what I’m waiting for.  It’s a little hard to tell from the trailer.  However, this has been a year of good horror films and therefore, I’m going to take a chance on All The Boys Love Mandy Lane and hope for the best.


Dance Scenes I Love: The Finale From Center Stage


Today’s dance scene that I love comes from 2000’s Center Stage.

Center Stage is one of those films that can be fairly criticized for a lot of reasons but — oh my God, y’all — I used to love this movie so much!  Actually, I still do because every time I watch it, I feel like I’m 15 years old again and I’m just so in love with dancing and performing that I can’t even begin to put it into words.  I think everyone has a film that they irrationally love because it reminds them of a certain time, place, or state-of-mind.  For me, Center Stage is that film.

The scene below is a long one and the video is not the best quality but I still love it because it captures the excitement of both dancing and of being on stage.  Add to that, I’d love to be in that show… (I look good in both black and red.)