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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Opinion-- A list of regrets before I graduate
Opinion-- A list of regrets before I graduate
Sal Wiertella March 1, 2024

Heathen hearts show Pagan pride on Viking metal album

Scandinavia is known as a breeding ground for extreme metal.  So many different sub-genres of metal come from this relatively small part of the world.Folk metal, which is heavy metal that calls on lyrical inspiration from folklore and makes use of folk instruments, is one of the lesser known genres from the region.

And one of the front runners in the genre is Tyr. Tyr, named after the Viking god of war, is from the Faroese Islands and have made a name for themselves with their excellent lyrical writing and their well-written melodies. Nowhere is this more prevalent than on their fifth release, “By the Light of the Northern Star.”


The album starts strong with the track “Hold the Heathen Hammer High,” which already shows lead vocalist, guitarist and lyrist for the band Heri Joensen’s excellent alliteration (the first line is just “Heathen Heart, Pagan Pride”).  The track is pounding with its heavy guitar riffs, but the melody of the main theme and Joensen’s voice make the song quite catchy, which is one of Tyr’s many talents.

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The next track, “Tróndur í Gøtu,” is one of many traditional covers that Tyr does.  Tyr will often take a traditional folk song and perform a heavy metal version of it.

The most famous of these is probably their cover “The Wild Rover” from the album Eric the Red.  There is one more cover on this album, named “Turið Torkilsdóttir.”

“Into the Storm” is the third track from the album and continues where “Hold the Heathen Hammer High” left off.  Heavy guitar riffs, soaring melody lines, and Joensen’s unique voice make this song another classic Tyr song.  The man has a low range voice that’s powerful and has a distinct tone.  It’s meaty, compared to a nasally tone, and uses a certain heft to it.

Honestly, the man sounds like a Viking.

“By the Sword in My Hand” is the most well-known song from the album, though that isn’t saying much.  The track is probably the heaviest song on the album, although this isn’t necessarily a good thing.  The song lacks the strong melodic nature that the rest of the album possesses.  This is quite possibly the weakest song on the album.

However, the song is still an enjoyable listen and is a good introduction to the band, even if it is missing one of their most prominent features.

The album ends with the crushing title track, which is slower than most of the album.  While the previous songs had a faster action packed feel, as if to make the listener feel like they are truly in battle, “By the light of the Northern Star” gives the feeling that the listener is trudging through miles of deep snow after a battle.  The chorus has incredible alliteration, which is borrowed in part from different elder poetic writings from the Faroese islands area.  The track gives off the feel of an epic, with its lyrical composition almost matching that style.

All in all, “By the Light of the Northern Star” is an underappreciated album that deserves much more recognition in the heavy metal community.

For those that enjoy metal, I wholeheartedly recommend Tyr’s “By the Light of the Northern Star.”

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