Friday, November 14, 2008

SIG:AR:TYR – Beyond the North Winds (2008)

SIG:AR:TYR is an oddly named one man act from the frozen tundra of Ontario. The one man goes by the name Daemonskald and delivers slow rocking, but consistently intriguing folk metal. It is a genre that is probably past the point of overdone but we don't get a whole lot of metal from Canada so give him a chance will you?

SIG:AR:TYR plays with a number of different moods, taking inspiration both from ambient and viking acts. The first track “King of the World” begins some nice Egyptian-sounding synth work before kicking into the mid tempo heavy chords that characterize much of the album. The rhythms get more interesting from there and occasionally give way to solid acoustic work.

The lyrics are viking in nature, probably derivative, but are somewhat interesting, and Daemonskald delivers them in a variety of vocal styles. He has a distinct voice and I thought there might be multiple singers at work the first time I heard it.

“Pale Autumnal Moon” and “Sword From an Unknown Hand” feature good acoustic guitar work, but really feel like filler tracks. That is, not bad, but skippable when you want to get to the meat of the album. Songs like the title track “Beyond the North Winds” and “Under the Mountain” each clock in at over eight minutes, and while that isn't necessarily bad, seem to reach that length in much the same way that Opeth would, playing each riff over and over. Still they each feature a number of interesting segments and so you have to listen through to get a gist for the song.

The album really hits a high note on one of the last songs “The Way.” This is where the song kicks from mid tempo to pretty epic, probably what that slower plod has been building to this whole time. Opening with a fast acoustic riff, the heavy guitars kick in, then give way to his most echo-y full singing yet. Daemonskald hits the high notes here and should elicit at least a head nod from even the most anti-scene scenester.

If he plays around with this sound more on his next album, breaking up the more monotonous parts with a little power and speed, we might have an Epic Win on our hands. For now he's at least worth checking out.

Verdict: WIN (8/10)

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