Brymir – Voices in the Sky [Things You Might Have Missed 2022]

Sometimes, the music doesn’t click. On paper, it should be halfway up your alley before the first song is over. It’s the right genre, right ideas, right pace, but the shit thrown against the wall still slides off into the ooze of a thousand less-deserving records. Heretofore, that was Brymir. I wanted to like them; I should have worshiped them. But their first three entries of symphonic melodic death escaped me like self-awareness from your favorite black metal band. So why, oh why, should a tired wvrm limp out of the doldrums of exile to dump on a band he doesn’t really like? Because Voices in the Sky finally fucking clicked.

For all the gusto and circumstance stuffed into their previous attempts, the Finnish quintet’s sound felt like a hollow copy of other, better bands. What’s different this time around? The hooks, yes, but not just the hooks. The grandeur of the music feels focused, less in a vague hand-wavy “epic” way and more in a palpable sense of direction. It’s most directly related to Ensiferumcore, but the heights are utilized almost in the way a premier power metal act might (Norther perhaps). Viktor Gullichsen’s soaring choruses only further this feeling. “Herald of Aegir” features the most prominent power metal bones, as its rising intro and acoustic teasing triumphantly burst into gleaming, delicious meloriffage that put the song among my favorites of the year. With intriguing symphonic passages buffeting smoking hot verses and as big of a pants-ruiner chorus/solo as I’ve heard in a while, it’s hard to top “Herald of Aegir.”

Brymir may energize tracks like “Herald” and “Fly with Me” with that power metal spark, but Voices’ core genre is never in doubt. Barely a song on here doesn’t highlight Joona Björkroth and Sean Haslam putting the “melo” in melodeath. In that vein, Gullichsen’s synth motifs on “Landfall” are delightfully unobtrusive, adding to the beeg riff instead of getting in the way. Admittedly, the front half leans heavily on a super simple pop-metal song structure a la Equilibrium, particularly on the biggest and bestest songs. The B-side represents a welcome departure. “Landfall,” “Borderland,” and particularly the blackened “Seeds of Downfall” press harder and sport a darker tinge, and that’s Brymir’s greatest achievement here. They’re not only churning out tracks that rip within their mold, they’re doing it outside their norm too.

I’m well aware that my reaction to this record is the one some had for Brymir’s previous entry, Wings of Fire. To me, Wings’ tracks like “Gloria in Regum” and “Ride On, Spirit” feel more like forerunners for the effort here, but I recognize a To Each Their Own situation when I see one. Regardless of which record does it for you, Brymir have surely sorted out their sound. Given that I barely listen to metal music at all anymore, it feels weird to issue pronouncements on the impact on the melodeath landscape. Instead, I leave you with this: Voices in the Sky is a killer and a thriller and I hope you enjoy it too.

Tracks to Check Out: “Herald of Aegir,” “Fly with Me,” “Landfall,” “Far from Home”

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