Review Summary: SIG:AR:TYR shows much progression with his new release with a bigger use of electric guitar, new vocal styles and an overall more straightforward song writting style.
In the past, Daemonskald has shown us he doesn’t like always doing the same thing with his music. The Stranger
, SIG:AR:TYR’s first EP, was solely ambient acoustic guitars with some spoken sections. Next came his first full-length, Sailing The Seas Of Fate
, that saw him taking the ambient acoustics from his first EP and adding some electric guitar and drums to create a new epic acoustic/metal sound but where the acoustic was dominant (as opposed to most other bands that play folk metal). Both the EP and the album were well received by the few that heard them.
On Beyond The North Winds
, SIG:AR:TYR’s musical progression continues with added vocal styles, more straightforward song writing, a slightly stronger penchant towards black metal and a more important use of the electric guitar to create a very diverse album that keeps the core of the sound created on the last album.
The album opens up with some symphonic keyboards and a slow ominous drumbeat. After about 3 minutes of this the first few acoustic guitar chords come in. Then you are hit with heavily distorted guitars; the acoustic guitars still going behind them. But then something happens. It is not something big but if you are a fan of SIG:AR:TYR’s previous work you will know that this small change is something completely new to the sound. The acoustic guitar disappears leaving way to distorted electric guitar riffs and a slow drumbeat. This is the first of many changes to appear on the album.
First of all, the acoustic guitar is much less present than on the last album. But its presence is still pretty big. Sailing The Seas Of Fate
had a few songs that featured electric guitar but only one that was driven by it(Skuld
); whereas, Beyond The North Winds
has 4 songs that focus more on the electric guitar(King Of The World, Beyond The North Winds, Under The Mountain and Etched In Stone
). Each of these songs features some acoustic guitar but it is used either as an interlude between different parts of the songs, to create a short melody over a rhythmic electric riff or as a rhythm guitar to complement one of the electric riffs.
To balance out this new found heaviness, the album features 3 instrumental acoustic songs (Pale Autumnal Moon, Sword From An Unknown Hand, Among The Ruins
) and one acoustic ballad (Far Away
). Pale Autumnal Moon
revolves around some strummed chords with an ambient sound sample as a backdrop. Sword From An Unknown Hand
starts off with some slow chord progressions and incorporates some acoustic soloing. Among The Ruins
is easily the best of the three and features elements from both songs. One problem that has followed SIG:AR:TYR since the beginning of their discography reoccurs here also; this is with the acoustic solos. They often turn into a low, blur of notes which is sad because there seems to be much talent hidden beneath them but it is almost impossible to hear.
creates a balance between the electric and acoustic side of the music with its happy sounding strummed verses and powerful electric choruses.
Now about the singing. Those of you that have heard his two previous works probably expect more of the same spoken vocals with maybe some occasional screaming (like on Urd
). This type of singing is only featured on the first track and even there it is harsher than before. The rest of the album is separated between high, raspy black metal-like screams and Daemonskald’s new found clean singing. His voice sounds like a less peppy version of an operatic power metal singer (see Under The Mountain
for the best example of this). The operatic sound of his voice suits the slower pace of his music very well and provides diversity not featured on his previous works.
As stated earlier, Daemonskald has created a very diverse album. The songs range from instrumental acoustic (the three mentioned earlier) to black metal (Etched In Stone
) to an acoustic ballad (Far Away
) and even what could be considered a doom song (Under The Mountain
). Lyrically the album revolves around nature and pagan mythology and is often written in a nice abstract way. But the lyrics falter drastically in Far Away
where they cross the line into cheesiness. Instrumentally the album is very impressive. The acoustic and electric guitars intertwine to create unique melodies and epic songs. The electric guitar solos are always top-notch and always seem to come in at the right moment to add their own piece to the song. Sadly, the acoustic solos are often much harder to distinguish because the notes often come out sounding muffled. The drumming, although very simplistic, fits with the slower pace of the songs and allows the listener to focus more on the intertwining guitars and the lyrical content of the album.
Beyond The North Winds
is another superb release by a band that has yet to disappoint. It shows and incredible amount of progression over past releases and manages to create something that is just as enjoyable while staying fresh and creative. A few minor flaws hold this back from a 5 (the acoustic solos and the cheesy lyrics of the acoustic ballad) but this will definitely stay near the top of my top albums of 2008.