01 In Excelsis
04 No Mercy
05 Aire (Eternity)
08 Entre Deux Mondes
09 Anima Lacerata
10 Hail The Vakiyrs
01 Temple Of Glory
02 Mierce Huine
Liyr is a French Martial Neoclassical project started by Sven Mann in 2009. Their first album, “Fragments of Dust” was released on Rage In Eden in 2010. “Sub Terra Inferis” is their second very recent release, also on Rage In Eden that justifiably seems to be their home. This time the project is enlarged by one member, Alexandra Nordrac, who brings her melodic composition skills to the ensemble, thus refining its sound to a superbly complex, multi-layered but also very tightly arranged blend. Apart from that she participates with her vocals in some of the album’s most noticeable tracks, such as “Entre Deux Mondes” and “Aire”. In those tracks can be discerned a slightly more ethereal quality than the rest, as their melodic elements are accentuated, while at the same time they maintain the martial percussion with compact, stern rhythms that create an alluring contradiction. Alexandra’s inclusion to the project signifies a new era of maturity and evolution, through the combination of the opposites of male and female – something that is evident as the tempestuous, emotional, essentially aquatic nature of the music is constantly broken by sudden bursts of percussion and restless string arrangements, perpetuating the delightful exchange between melody and aggression, darkness and beauty.
The back and forth between the two contrary points in their sound is a fusion of the opposites even in the way the two interact. A harmonious yet at the same time furious interaction, where all the instruments and sequences appear in just the right position, but with a conflicting intensity reminiscent of the abrupt changes of weather, and the coming and going of colossal waves. Liyr is a Celtic sea deity, and just like the sea, this work is at the same time cleansing, beautiful and seductive, as well as unfathomable, dark and dangerous.
The echoes of Triarii, Arditi, Puissance, The Protagonist and other significant projects in the genre can be detected in Liyr. They possess the same uncanny ability to compose darkly seducing melodies, to invoke heroic and grandiose atmospheres and to plunge headlong into the intensely cinematic universe of the vision of Europa. The two projects they bear the closest resemblance to however, are the also French Tribe of Circle, and the Dutch Predella Avant. Both these amazing projects being now defunct, it is a source of joy to me that Liyr have picked up the torch and not only continue that wonderful tradition, but they take it many steps further by assimilating those influences into their own characteristic brand.
Although the consistency of the level of composition in “Sub Terra Inferis” makes it imperative to perceive it as a whole, there are some tracks that are especially impressive. The dismal, ominous operatic chants, stringent tones and military marches of “Litanie” bring to mind a frightening army emerging from the depths of hell to sweep mankind to oblivion. The darkest instincts of the human soul are called upon, to bring forth the legions of this army. The bombastic, lofty strings and bellicose drumming of “Entre Deux Mondes” in contradiction to Alexandra’s assertive, theatrical vocals simulate a perilous journey through the seas of existence, while “Hail The Vakiyrs” is a highly dramatic, intensely passionate track comprised of a multitude of male and female operatic choirs, atmospheric synths, bombastic percussions and ardent, majestic strings. The noble, imperial sense it creates is truly awe-inspiring. In “Battlefield” a suitable ending is given to the recording, with a saturnine tune roving over the battlefield, led to a gradual escalation with the addition of shrieking melodies, choir and belligerent rhythms.
In some cases of musicians it is immediately apparent that they possess a spontaneously elaborate talent for creation on a grand scale. Liyr is definitely one of those cases. The expertly executed mélange of melody with militarism, sentiment with strength, despondency with hope and harmony with discordance simply cannot fail to grasp the listener’s attention. Martial neoclassical finds a vehicle of genuine expression in their work, and I am sure they will become a classic just as Tribe of Circle and Predella Avant are points of reference today for everyone interested in the genre. “Sub Terra Inferis” is a striking release, and an indispensable addition to any martial neoclassical enthusiast’s collection.