10 Best Viking Metal Bands Of All Time

The brutality of the Viking Age sans the pillage.

Amon Amarth
Metal Blade

It's hardly surprising the wonders of Norse mythology and the brutality of Vikings go with heavy metal like peanut butter with chocolate. The ferocity, warfare, spirituality and spooky mysticism of the Viking way of life has resonated with the heavy metal listeners since the genre's inception. Both groups, separated by millennia, are fiercely loyal to their tribes/bands of choice, immersed in musical rituals and aggressive and fond of an independent, warrior spirit.

Many of Viking metal's finest hail from the Scandinavian countries that serve as ancestral homes for the Vikings and worship of the Norse Aesir. These acts took great inspiration from their nations' history and culture to infuse their music with epic lyrics of battles, gods and brutality.

The genre is diverse in sound, often being regarded as a cross-genre between black metal (a genre it grew from in the late 1980s), death metal and traditional Nordic folk music. While black metal typically opposed Christianity with Satanic concepts and themes, Viking metal embraced paganism and the Viking Age. The majority of groups associated with Viking metal originate from Nordic nations with band members taking great pride in asserting their ancestry to berserker warriors of old.

10. Tyr

Hailing from the Faroe Islands, Tyr exploded onto the scene in 1998. Named after the one-handed Norse God of War, Law and Justice, their songs are steeped in Faroese folk lore, Norse mythology and Viking history.

Frontman Heri Joensen has often railed against labels and genres, considering Tyr an exercise in breaking down and merging a variety of subgenres including Viking, power, black and epic metal. The bands focus of kvæõi, a traditional Faroese music, has set them apart from their peers and fascinated international listener for years.

Their conservative approach to traditional music types is often contrasted by complex, imaginative takes on the related harmonies and chord developments.

Tyr have not escaped controversy however, often being peppered with accusations of embracing Nazi doctrines due to their use of certain runes and images. The group lashed out at the accusations on their 2011 release Lay of Thrym. Tracks like Shadow of the Swastika furiously attack extreme political ideologies for their appropriation of these ancient symbols from a pre-Christian Northern Europe.

Tyr are still going strong today, most recently releasing Hel in 2019.

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