The nationalist sentiments running throughout Thyrfing’s Vansinnevisor — the Swedish title roughly translating as Songs Of Madness — leave at least this reviewer feeling a little uncomfortable with this release. With black metal’s increased use of Nazi symbolism and even ideology, one should probably approach any such release with caution, and even more so when the nationalist theme form both a lyrical and a musical foundation, as in this case. Easier said than done for most, obviously, since most songs on here are sung in Swedish. But there you go.

Rest assured, though, that while Thyrfing explore Norse mythology through imagery and sound, they are positioned far away from the extreme right wing. While they take pride in their country’s national heritage, they seem to use it mainly as a prop to describe a more personal battle. They may take the old mythologies and sagas at face value, but the rest of us can still enjoy the music without subscribing to their beliefs. And musically, this is pretty good, actually. Black folk metal played with a stomp and a grind, bringing to mind Bathory back in their heyday, although Thyrfing are more accomplished and play up their technical proficiency with grueling blastbeats and insane shredding. It’s Viking metal, for sure, but with even more symphonic pomp and grandeur added to the mix.

I’d love them to drop the cliché-ridden imagery and childish mythological flirt, but hey, that’s not going to happen. As it is, Thryfing have delivered a musically impressive album that leaves a bit to be desired on the lyrical side. But that’s metal for you. Can’t have it all.

Hammerheart Records:

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