Monday, March 30, 2009

Pagan Knights at the Highline Ballroom

In college, I had some ambitions of pursuing a career in ethnomusicology - roughly the point where music and anthropology meet - and I have a bit of soft spot for anyone who can drag ethnomusicology into interesting situations. Like, say, a heavy metal concert.

See, I went into last night's show believing that Tyr wrote all of their music. Shaken by frontman Heri Joensen's intro to "Sinklars Vísa," which he described as being about "a group of Scots getting their asses kicked in Norway in a war around 1610 or so," this belief was shattered by the number of non-English lyriced songs that Joensen introduced as Faroese traditional music. Clearly Joensen, who does most of the band's arranging, enjoys his research; Tyr does as much recasting of the music of the past into modern idioms as they do writing new material, and - in tribute to the intellectualism of their art - is equally effective at both efforts. Seriously: folk songs you can mosh to? It doesn't get much better.

Really, though I shouldn't be surprised: using traditional music as a basis for pagan metal seems like a pretty logical extension for a genre that already pulls pretty much of all of its subject matter from the past, right?

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