Chosen by Monk

My latest audio-visual treat comes from renascent Faroese metallers Týr, who are proclaiming that ‘Dragons Don’t Die’ with the latest cut sliced from their forthcoming ninth studio album, ‘Battle Ballads’.

The album represents not only the band’s first new recordings in five years, and the first to feature new guitarist Hans Hammer, but also a shift in musical and creative direction for the Viking warriors, drawing its inspiration almost directly from the band’s 2020 collaboration with the Symphony Orchestra of the Faroe Islands, which drew frontman Heri Joensen towards incorporating more classical elements into Týr’s previous progressive folk metal sound, as he explained:

There’s a reason classical music is called classical. It’s the classical way of doing it. And it creates these epic sounds that fit in perfectly with the kind of metal we do in Týr. So, there’s full orchestration on all of the new songs.

Joensen also explained the theory behind the album title, ‘Battle Ballads’, stressing that it has nothing in common with the lighter-raising songs so prevalent in the 1980s.

“There are definitely two versions of a ballad. A lot of people think of hair metal, when they think of ballads. We are looking at ballads here in the Medieval sense. Apart from a couple of softer parts on the album, this is very much straight heavy metal with some folk and classical influences. I’m not sure what exactly one would call it – power metal, Viking metal, folk metal. It still fits in very much with what we do, only it feels bigger and more like these big soundscapes.

 I’m very satisfied with the way I put it together. It’s not the way I usually work. I had one very basic idea, and I made the whole song out of that. It’s like one continuous melody and I put some breaks into it so there are like eight musical phrases. I used the first of each four phrases for the chorus, and the second half for the lines and the verses. I was fiddling with that for quite some time and I’m very happy with the result. And not many bands, if any, work like this.

We consciously decided to make this a more direct album with songs that are easier for listeners to get right away than some of the stuff on our last album, or maybe even on our 2006 album ‘Ragnarok’, which was very progressive. With ‘Battle Ballads’, there are progressive elements here and there, but we tried to keep the songs based on one or two musical ideas each, and work on everything from there. So, in a way, it’s more concise than our last album, but it’s more epic because of the symphonic elements.

As much as Týr would have liked to have followed the example of the likes of Septic Flesh and written, rehearsed and recorded with a symphony orchestra, schedule conflicts made it impossible to have the band and classical musicians to be in the same place at the same time. So Týr did the next best thing. The band, wrote the album’s ten songs then Jeonsen sent the compositions to a Danish colleague Lars Winther living in England, who added the orchestral samples, paying close attention to the tone and tempo of the songs so the violins, violas, cellos, woodwinds, and horns fit complimented the traditional rock instruments. When the samples were all in place the album sounded impressive, but the tones weren’t perfectly blended. So, Týr sent the album to veteran producer Jacob Hansen in Denmark to put together the final mix.

We actually never worked directly with Lars Winther and Jacob in the studio, we did everything on the Internet, Joensen says. It’s very easy and effortless to work like that. We had all the arrangements the way we wanted them, and they were both very professional people so there were no hiccups along the way.

Battle Ballads‘ is released on 12 April.