Viking metal troupe Tragedy and Triumph – primarily actually only one man, Marius Berendsen, with some studio help from vocalist Raphael Weller – make all the right moves with new album Where Mountains Rise and Hearts Fall, delivering just what you’d expect from a Northern European outfit with a yen for the ‘Swedish’ sound, but in the final washup they just fall short of delivering on their undoubted promise.
Maybe it’s the slightly one-paced nature of the material – nobody imagines Vikings plodding into battle, surely – or the fact that the songs often rely on bludgeoning the listener into submission with attritional riffage, rather than beguiling them with Loki-like tricks and, just occasionally, a memorable hook or two, but a lot of the material on offer here just falls a little flat when measured up against the true gods of this genre. You know who I’m talking about.
When they do get it right, as on the superb Five Arrows, they do so in spectacular fashion. Upping the speed of attack slightly, here the feel is of the epic heroism of battle won rather than victory by sluggardly cunning, even if the best riff in the song borrows heavily from Judas Priest‘s Breaking The Law… Whatever the influences may be, there’s no denying that they are used well in this song.
Of the less spritely material, Where Fires March Victorious scores heavily for slowing right down, ramping up the doom with telling ferocity; here the ghosts of Bathory and Manowar circa Bridge of Death loom, and the vast slabs of guitar will surely make names like Grand Magus and Tyr sit up and take a little bit of notice.
Weller’s vocal approach has a default guttural setting that, added to a position in the mix that does it no favours, occasionally makes it difficult to follow what’s going on, which is a shame, but nothing a bit of studio tweaking couldn’t sort out, and the overall opinion one is left with of this album is that of a band that just needs a bit more time to grow into the epic ambition of the material they are trying to deliver. That’ll come, and there is probably enough here in terms of satisfying material and raw promise to make the wait for the next T&T album worthwhile.
Where Mountains Rise and Hearts Fall is out now.