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Steignyr - Myths Through the Shadows of Freedom

Steignyr
Myths Through the Shadows of Freedom
by Max Elias at 16 June 2019, 2:37 PM

STEIGNYR describe themselves as ‘epic Celtic death metal’, so it makes sense for their new album to open on an instrumental. The sweeping strings turn from grandiose to energizing, and the tribal drum accents lend that Celtic air. The first full song, ‘Those Who Lie’, follows nicely form the intro. The melody expands and establishes itself over the same rhythm pattern heard in ‘Salvation Through Divinity’. After the guitars come in, strings stay in the background to lend added depth to the steady power-chord chug. The melody from earlier recurs as well, over growled vocals and distorted riffing.

‘Black Rain’ sees guitar taking the reins of melody, and also brings in some clean vocals. The atmospherics (strings, keys) mostly stay in the background, but the song does close out on just orchestral instruments. ‘Calling the Immortals’ starts with a really interesting pull-off riff that I wish would be expanded on, or at least repeated more. The band ends it after a few seconds, slamming down the drums and power chords. There are moments where melodic riffs are introduced, but then fade away seconds after they came, not seeming to be part of the song’s overarching structure. Most of the song is built around AMON AMARTH-type power chord chugging under deep growled vocals about mythology.

‘Frost Wolf’ starts off like an angrier Steve Harris wrote it, but has some of my favorite melody moments between the gallops. Although I like the tremolo-inflected melody that permeates the track, I wouldn’t call it Celtic. When I think Celtic I think of SUIDAKRA or ELUVEITIE. This I would characterize as a slightly blackened Finnish melody, like darker KALMAH. Three and a half minutes in, there is a short acoustic lull before epic Viking riffs resume, and with them the deepest vocals I’ve heard in a while. A blood-boiling triplet riff sees the song to its end.

Refreshingly, ‘Moonlight Forest’ does not storm right in with gain-filled guitar and crushing drums, but takes time to develop its ambient, flute-laden intro. It takes around two minutes to even get to what I would call the main melody in the song, but that journey doesn’t feel like it drags. The song is also entirely instrumental. When guitars do enter, they are punctuated by occasional bell rings and the swelling of strings. They are not meant as the focal point however, but as the backbone allowing the symphonic elements to complete the mosaic. ‘Arrows of Time’ is another mid-paced AMON AMARTH style song, with some muted flute playing under the verses. Like much of ‘Frost Wolf’, the song is built on nonstop chugging triplets. To its credit, it also establishes a constant melodic presence on top of that. This is probably one of my favorite songs on the album, although I still cannot abide the vocals, which have the pitch of a growl but the force and presence of a whisper.

The ballad ‘You’ll Never Be Forgotten’ is a traditional Celtic ballad, where flute is shortly doubled by concertina/accordion (I can’t decide what instrument that is). The accordion then takes the main melody, a busier—and also more traditional-sounding—figure than has been heard on this album thus far. Perhaps because it is a ballad, even when guitars come in, the melody doesn’t disappear, but becomes a duet between guitar and flute. It is not as driving as previous songs, but the heaviness is there. I personally think it’s better balanced with the melodic element.

There are four more songs left, but other than a few standout moments (the acoustic quasi-end to ‘Light Beast’ and breaks for strings in the title track) they don’t bring much that’s new. Sometimes flutes can be heard, as in the title track, but overall they are too low in the mix. Riff-wise, most of these riffs sound like standard power metal fare. The album ends on ‘The Seven Eyes of God’, an instrumental like the first song, but more developed. The tranquility of it contrasts nicely to ‘Myths Through The Shadows of Freedom’, and the symmetry of beginning as well as ending with an instrumental works well.

The whole album feels less powerful to me than it would if some of the traditional instruments were more prominent, like on an ELUVEITIE record, or if guitars adopted the hooks, like in ENSIFERUM. Without good melodies, folk metal doesn’t really have much, as it’s rare that the riffs are anything more than chord chugging, and those vocals certainly aren’t doing anything to scream ‘epic’. That said, if you like AMON AMARTH type meldodeath/epic metal, check it out.

Songwriting: 8
Originality: 7
Memorability: 7
Production: 6

3 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Salvation Through Divinity
2. Those Who Lie
3. Black Rain
4. Calling the Immortals
5. Frost Wolf
6. Moonlight Forest
7. Arrows of Time
8. You’ll Never Be Forgotten
9. Light Beast
10. Whisper Calling
11. Frozen in Time
12. Myths Through the Shadows of Freedom
13. The Seven Eyes of God
Lineup:
Jön Thörgrimr - Guitars/vocals
Hyrtharia - Keyboards
Hludowig - Bass
Zelther - Drums
Jörmun - Guitars
Record Label: Art Gates Records
     


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Edited 20 August 2019
 

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