This band just keeps getting better with age. There's really no other way to say it. Drawing from classic metal and thrash influences as well as a substantial back catalog, Tyr push forward with an incredibly complete, mature, and balanced album for their Metal Blade debut Valkyrja.

The album is chock full of catchy riffs and choruses that will spend hours worming their way through your brain, and their subtle off-time signatures and misdirection will have the mathlete in you wondering how they make it work. The monstrous low end sets apart the majestic twin leads, and Heri Joensen's unique and inimitable voice soars over it all, and nothing is out of place or balance. It's amazing that the production can be so dry and yet alive at the same time.

Normally I am not a fan of duets because they tend to be musically weak and lyrically forced, but I will say that The Lay of Love with Liv Kristine (Leaves Eyes) is a stunningly beautiful song on every level, and is a standout track on the record. It's a great, passionate song and doesn't come off as an afterthought.

I will depart on the bonus tracks, however. The Maiden cover isn't bad, but the Pantera cover doesn't work for me. It's executed well- a little too well. It's a bit over-polished and it seems mismatched for Tyr's sound. I don't blame them, though, many a band has attempted to cover Cemetery Gates and I can't think of a one that nailed it. Besides, the originals on this album are more than enough to keep your neck in a constant state of motion.