Finns Ymir’s Blood promise a sound that honours the ancient Gods of metal, and their self-titled second full-length doesn’t fail to deliver on that particular war aim.
Opening track Unleasher – Beerbarian takes a while to get going – it’s nearly four minutes underway before we hear anything from vocalist KK – but when it does it’s a nice synthesis of beer-drinking anthemery and Viking call to arms. Production is basic but entirely adequate, with the band producing the sort of raw sound you often find yourself wishing Grand Magus would employ every now and then. KK’s a limited throatsmith but he gets the job done, with some beered-up backing vocals on the simple choruses bolstering him when the going gets tough.
Second track 1589 is glorious, as simple as that. Utilising the sort of stately, doom-infused rifferama Manowar used to deploy around the time of Into Glory Ride/Hail to England, it’s a monolithic slab of heavy metal power in its rawest, purest form – nigh on unbeatable in fact. KK -did I mention he plays guitar too? – adds some neat soloing to his staple diet of adamantine riffage here to good effect, with the rock solid rhythm back up of drummer JR and bassist TL adding the requisite ballast to his high end heroism. If you’re not already parading around your lounge room in a fur-lined loincloth at the end of the song’s eight minute duration I suspect there may be something wrong with you.
Vipunen Wisdom is next, another slowish exposition of doomy riffing that doesn’t quite ignite in the way the first two tracks do. KK sounds genuinely strained here vocally, and that detracts slightly from the impact of the again-excellent music; that said, the thunderous instrumental end section of the song is one of the album’s undoubted highlights, with the trio locking together in mighty stirring fashion. It’s hair-raising stuff, and something you’ll find yourself returning to again and again as your relationship with the record develops.
The real surprise here is the last of the quartet of original compositions featured, Origin of Iron. KK hands the mic over to Gorephilia’s Henu, giving the song a totally brutal death metal makeover that stands or falls on whether you like that style of music or not. The band remains rooted in trad metal throughout, but I have to say that the mix is strangely effective. KK stretches out on guitar, unyoked from vocal duties, and puts in his most compelling six string performance of the record, but I’ll leave it up to you to decide whether this is maybe a direction the band explores further in the future.
A spirited, doomed-up take on Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song finishes the album; It’s a brave move to dabble with one of the greats of the proto-metal canon in quite so dramatic a way, but Ymir’s Blood have the guts to follow it through and make their vision of the song work, just as they do with their own material. Impressive work.