It have been almost two years now since I first got into contact with Ryghär Highwind (vocalist and mastermind behind Ryghär). Back then this blog didn’t exist and Ryghär‘s debut-album was far from being released. Yet something that united us was that both of us were having a vision. We got along pretty well and stayed in touch, thus I had the honour to witness various stages of crafting this album. I know that Ryghär went through quite some up and downs, but I’m confident to say that the 23rd September, the release date of Thurmecia Eternal, the autumnal equinox, will mark an ultimate milestone on the adventure of the Silver Company!
It is said that famous fantasy author Robert E. Howard based his concept of the Cimmerian hillscape on the landscape of Texas. Also hailing from Texas, Ryghär Highwind, a huge admirer of Howard’s work, named the ancient hills of Texas as a powerful source of inspiration when recording an early rough demo of his first songs back in late 2019. He came up with a story that had stuck in his head for quite some time: The story of Thurmecia, a distant kingdom back in the prehistoric times of this world. Yet, the glorious days of Thurmecia have come to an end as the Lich King of the Land Where the Sun Never Sleeps marches his undead forces against the once mighty kingdom. Therefore, the barbarian commander Ryghär Highwind and the Silver Company have to go on a hopeless mission in order to find the Witching Blade, an ancient weapon able to cut through the Lich King’s dark and tremendous spells. But who can be trusted? Is this the right path? Will they make it in time? Thurmecia Eternal will just tell the first chapter of this epic story, which will be continued by future releases. After some months of writing Ryghär caught a friend’s, Whiteclaw Nohelm (Bass), eye and he brought Meryl Daggyrd (Lead Guitars) and Thorigrimm (Rhythm Guitars) with him to work on this project. While the drummer, who recorded this album, unfortunately had to leave the band, Skullsück (Keyboard) completed the line-up for now. – If you want to find out more about Ryghär‘s story, I recommend reading the two interviews we did with them. One is for Bleeding4Metal (German) and one for this blog (English).
About the music itself: According to the band all members of Ryghär are huge fans of Eternal Champion and indeed one can hear a significant influence. It starts with the vocals, who also share the Mark-Shelton-inspired nasally tone . Combined with some discreet effects it results in the obscurely epic sound, we know and love from legends like Manilla Road, Pagan Altar or more recently Eternal Champion. And similarly to Mark Shelton’s vocals Ryghär Highwind varies a lot with his singing style, which might not be that striking at first glance but adds a lot of depth to the overall sound. Besides different pitches, he also plays with the roughness of his voice resulting in a dramatic sound in some parts and in a more barbaric one in others. This variation is also reflected by the rest of the sound. But one thing all songs have in common is the constant atmosphere, perfectly suiting the narrated story in the lyrics. One can feel that doom is steadily approaching, that the ultimate demise is inevitable, yet still inmidst of all the darkness there’s a spark of hope that guides our heroes. Vital for this atmosphere are the very prominent keyboards, who unlike in modern EU Power Metal releases don’t form the foundation of the sound, but rather function as a beneficial and elemental addition to it, similarly to Atlantean Kodex‘ latest album, thus maintaining an organic sound. In addition lead guitarist Meryl Daggyrd plays an important role with his many grappling solos, which despite being playful carry tons of emotion in them. Meanwhile the riffs determine the tone of each song, alternating between pounding passages on the one hand and calm melodious on the other. This is being underlined by the propulsive drumming and the espousing bassplaying. All of this together forges a distinct yet still familiar sound in the vein of true Epic Metal legends. Due to this Ryghär portray themselves as an independent and uniquely sounding band, with some of our genres’ favourite elements.
Conclusion: As all songs distinguish themselves from the each other it is almost impossible to mention highlights. Ryghär vary a lot in their sound while still keeping the gloomy atmosphere and their epic tone in every song. This causes the suspense to stay at a high level throughout the who album, therefore, causing it to excite even after many listenings, as it still has something to offer. A great example is “A Baleful Wind Cries Above the Ziggurat Esoternium”, which on the hand has a galloping and rather aggressive riff, while on the other hand shines with a very melodic chorus perfectly staged by Ryghär Highwind’s intensely emotional vocals. “Hammers in the Halls of the Deep” with its slowly pounding riff and barbarically powerful chorus provide a clear contrast. The intro and two instrumental interludes, of which one was written by Jeff Black (Gatekeeper, Encloaked) also add to the overall atmosphere and increase the attention drawn to each song. With this beast of an album Ryghär have proven that their creative minds are far from being exhausted. Ryghär have proven that they’ve got everything an Epic Heavy Metal band needs: an obscurely unique sounds, memorable songs, a passionate performance, some musical brilliancy and of course an unlimited extent of Manilla Road worshipping. Gladly they’ve found great record labels, Rafchild Records (CD & Vinyl) and Wrought Records (Casette), which won’t hinder them in their development but contrary summon the best out of them. I emphasise this as in my eyes Ryghär are one of the brightest upcoming stars in the Epic Metal scene. This album is without a doubt one my favourites this year. This album doesn’t have to be shy at The Armor of Ire or The Revenant King. This album is one of the genre’s greatest!
P.S. I am aware that this review might be a little biased, still I can fully assure you, that my described emotions and impressions are a hundred percent authentic. My friend, I am proud of you!