Ryghär – Thurmecia Eternal Review

Conan’s mighty name is heavy upon the wind of late around the stately AMG offices/black market organ emporium. Ancient Empire just released a Cimmerian-themed outing and now Texas trve metallers Ryghär are set to drop their Hyborian age debut. Adopting a sound somewhere between Savage Grace, Manilla Road and Sumerlands, this unheralded act has an iron fist locked firmly on the olden ways and know how to craft epic odes to all things rusty, tarnished and ancient. They do justice to the battle-hungry thematic content while providing a huge injection of nostalgia for folks who grew up in the 80s. And yet they bring enough freshness to the dusty template to compete with the likes of Eternal Champion and Megaton Sword. Sounds like a recipe for wictory and wengeance to me.

What you get on Thurmecia Eternal is the kind of denim, leather and broadsword shit metal fans have feasted upon since the early 80s. Songs like “Cair Vasturhaf: a Flaming Sunset on the Parapets of the King of the Western Sea”1 are carefully designed to hit all the trve buttons in your inner metal warrior. Drums thunder away calling you to arms and Ryghär Highwind sings of heroes and hermits in a love or hate blend of Manilla Road’s Mark “The Shark” Shelton and Sumerlands’ Phil Swanson. “A Desperate Plan on the Field of Battle” channels a lot of Cirith Ungol and Brocas Helm in its structure and tinny riffage, and the sometimes overly dramatic keyboards are an amusing touch to the fantasy theatrics. The best part is how the songs manage to be silly and at the same time really cool and catchy.

My personal favorite is “A Baleful Wind Cries Above the Ziggurat Esoternium”2 where the 80s worship is fused to aggressive Doomsword hammer shaking for something that sounds graceful even as it kneecaps you and loots your plate armor. The guitar-work here is superb and regal, bearing the hallmarks of much time spent in detention at the old school. Extra large-sized closer “The Witching Blade” dips its toes into Crypt Sermon-esque doom metal as a contrast to its highly trve tales of witchcraft and witch hammering, and to my ears it sounds like an outtake from the excellent Sumerlands debut, which I mean in a very good way. Along the various side quests your dungeon masters drag you through, there are some bumps and traps encountered. “Hammers in the Halls of the Deep” suffers from goofy vocal trade-offs between a pseudo-death metal bark and clean singing that just don’t work. While this doesn’t totally derail the entertainment factor the song provides, it does give its Achilles heel a nasty gash. Add in three interludes that feel somewhat gratuitous and ocassionally overweening keyboards and you have some padding and excess. The album sounds lovely, however, with an audible bass and a throwback early 80s atmosphere that hits me right in my misspent youth.

Minor songwriting ups and downs aside, for most the enjoyment quotient will come down to tolerance for Ryghär Highwind’s vocals. He has a style firmly rooted in the past and sometimes sounds like Eternal Champion’s Jason Tarpey, but with Phil Swanson’s oddly commanding nasal whine. I find his style endearing but it took a few songs for me to fully get behind it. Some may not get there. Meryl Daggyrd and Thorigrimm dazzle with period guitar work and glorious soloing, and the strong Sumerlands similarities in their playing are a boon. Whiteclaw Nohelm lays down rumbling bass lines that give the often tinny guitars the low-end foundation they need. Skullsück (that’s his name, I’m not starting a beef) gets pretty handsy with his keyboard warrioring, and sometimes it works well, while other times it makes want to beat him with a rolled-up newspaper (okay, now we’re beefing). They’re a talented crew nonetheless with a sizable upside and scads of potential in their armory.

With a few minor tweaks, Thurmecia Eternal would be a very good album destined to dwell in the Hall of Heroes with warrior brothers like Visigoth and Eternal Champion. With some polish and practice, Ryghär may yet sack those halls and force a change in the course of the trve metal empire. I’ve enjoyed my time with their debut and I look forward to good things to come from these ümlaut abüsers. Check it out.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Self-Release
Website: ryghar.bandcamp.com
Releases Worldwide: September 24th, 2021

Show 2 footnotes

  1. I know, it’s a bit much.
  2. I know, I know.
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