Swedish six-piece Thyrfing has come into its own on Vansinnesvisor, its fourth full-length, and it's a successful voyage into an oaken woods where death metal, traditional thrash, and Scandinavian folk commingle harmoniously. The band's songwriting has vastly improved: The eight smart, carefully arranged songs comprising Vansinnesvisor (rough translation: "songs of madness") are built on strong, textured melodic structures rather than strings of riffs, and the band has more subtly integrated the yo-ho-ho Viking melodies which, on previous albums, were yielded with a heavy hand. And the arrangements aren't afraid to journey over vast, epic plains ("Angestens Hogborg," "The Giant's Laughter") or don chain mail for fierce swamp battles ("Draugs Harg," "Digerdoden"), often skillfully utilizing chants, clean-sung vocals, acoustic guitars, and fiddles as enhancements. The result is a darker, more skillfully crafted and memorable record than previous outings; in fact, Thyrfing is at the top of their game on Vansinnesvisor, the guitars, keyboards, drums, and harsh death vocals not invoking a full-out assault, but rather forming a strong, melodic whole that's greater than the mere sum of its parts. A careful balance of beauty with brutality, Vansinnesvisor is one of 2002's most overlooked metal albums and should place Thyrfing next to Enslaved at the top of the Viking-metal heap.
AllMusic Review by John Serba