The Stranger

When one thinks of Norse Mythology, Canada is probably one of the last locations that will come to mind. But after hearing Sailing The Seas Of Fate an epic ambient/acoustic/folk/metal album by the Canadian band SIG:ARTYR, and now their EP The Stranger, Canada cannot help but pop into my head at the mention of Norse Mythology.

Unlike Sailing The Seas Of Fate, The Stranger features no metal parts whatsoever. It consist only of acoustic guitar and Daemonskald’s voice. For those who enjoyed the acoustic melodies of Sailing…, this album holds many more wonders.

Lyrically the album is focused around a short story written by Daemonskald himself. (For those interested the story can be accessed via this link: [url][/url]) It tells the story of a mercenary that feels like he has been emptied of his soul and emotions by his trade and is contemplating suicide. But then a mysterious, nameless stranger comes along and, through his enigmatic speeches, convinces the young warrior not to jump into the rushing river beneath him. The story takes an eery end when the young man sees his lifeless body lying further down the river.

All lyrics are delivered with a soft spoken voice that mixes in with the acoustic guitar to create the bands signature, unique, atmospheric sound. Other than the voice and a
few windy sounds, acoustic guitar is the only thing heard on this album. Soft strumming or chord progressions usually start off the songs and are repeated a few times (but not to the point of getting boring) and create the relaxing, ambient mood of the album. After a few repetitions the lead acoustic guitar starts playing and weaves itself around the rhythm guitar to create intricate, melodic and even beautiful sounds that you can get lost in for the whole length of the EP.
A few fast picked acoustic solos are also present throughout the album. They do a good job to add variety and further demonstrate Daemonskald’s guitar talents. But, sometimes they are played so fast that some notes get lost in a kind of “acoustic blur”. Luckily, this doesn’t happen too often on the album and the solos are usually very enjoyable.

If you enjoy beautiful acoustic guitar, then look no further. The Stranger is a beautifully crafted EP full of intricate guitar work, ambient vocals and mystical lyrics. Daemonskald is an ingenious Canadian composer that will hopefully one day be more known in the world of music.
Simon Harris "Scream"- review from Sputnik Music

This demo is mesmerizing, ancient ambient music with certain Viking leanings. What really stands out about this demo are the choice spoken word portions, which will put a spell on you that will be hard to break out of. Each song here is very nonchalant, melodic, ambient, and mostly instrumental, except for the spoken word portions and the grandeur of it all will really make you feel as if you are taking some Viking journey or what have you. There are no solos here, but that's fine because that isn't what this music is going for. It is simply meant to engulf you in rich, melancholy melody and take you away from your current realm of existence. This is the kind of music you'd want to listen to just to relax or meditate's very non-threatening and non-imposing without being complete elevator music. What can I say?...pick this up as soon as possible. You won't regret it. I can't wait until the full-length album comes out. I read an interview with the band(artist) once in which he said a full-length was in the works. We shall see what will come in the future... Metal Archives

(9/10) The first thing you might think when you see the name of this project, is that the name is a little funny. An explanation according to official site: "The rune word set SIG:AR:TYR embodies three major aspects of existence: Chaos-Balance-Order." It is fitting for the project, as it is music that takes these aspects and puts them to musical form in heathen fashion. SIG:AR:TYR is a one man project of a man who simply refers to himself as Daemonskald and cites himself to be influenced by the likes of BATHORY, BURZUM and YNGWIE MALMSTEEN. So... what do you get when you throw these influences into a musical blender, then strip it down to nothing but accoustic guitars? Well, it would probably be a lot like SIG:AR:TYR.
"The Stranger" can be best described as atmospheric-accoustic. The six songs that comprise the demo are created exclusively with a steel-string accoustic for rhythm, a classical/Spanish guitar for the lead melodies, and a keyboard purely for atmospheric background ambience. There are lyrics in two of the six songs (At The Gates and Against The Grail) that are spoken in a narrative style. The lyrics reflect on the pagan culture and disparity in acceptance of the gradual fading of all that once was. This can be most seen in an Otto Rahn quote, used in "Against The Grail": "My Ancestors were Pagans/My Forebears Were Heretics". Overall the feeling evoked from the sound is a melancholic desolate atmosphere drenched in the bitterness of a culture lost. Throughout the album, the musicianship is top notch. Daemonskald can play his guitar, and isn't afraid to show it. The quality of the accoustic guitar shred apparent in this release is astounding. All the while, it's not just there for the sake of being there, and it fits the atmospheric taste of the album perfectly. The keyboards in use reside behind the guitars most of the time and are there to lend to the overall feel.
Songs of specific interest (without saying everything, as they are all astounding) were: "Orion Awaits" where Daemonskald goes off on a tangent with the keyboards that reminds me of the style of Tomhet from BURZUM's Hvis Lyset Tar Oss. Also the title track "The Stranger" which comes off to me as the music to a journey. It is a structured instrumental with instrumental passages as the "verses" of the song. As a final note: "The Stranger" was inspired by a short story of the same name written by Daemonskald, excerpts of which are provided on the glossy jewel case insert of the demo. The short story in its complete form is available to be read at SIG:AR:TYR's official site:
SIG:AR:TYR is great music for quiet reflection for the heathen in you. The project was recently snatched up by New Aeon Media (Karmageddon), and Daemonskald is currently writing new material for a worldwide SIG:AR:TYR release. Look for the next release sometime in the near future.

I've been sitting on this one for quite some time, mainly due to a greatly diminished time in my life to spin newer music and also for the fact that I haven't been in the mood to wrap my soul around the darkly atmospheric nature of Sig:Ar:Tyr's classically inspired, instrumental based music. Try to envision a nice mix between Ulver's folk fueled "Kveldssanger" and the greatness of Death in June and you have a glimpse into the world of Sig:Ar:Tyr's sole musical visionary Daemonskald. The spoken word passages found on "At The Gates" really points to the DIJ comparison as his cold voice speaks of a time long past, only for the droning chords to usher the listeners thoughts along for the shift back into history to be experienced through the eyes, heart and strings of Daemonskald. There are no percussive elements on this excellent and elegant 6 song release, just the existence of minor synth work, the occasional wisp of the wind, and some downright moving acoustic pieces. As "The Stranger" progresses, Daemonskald's affinity for the "Kveldssanger" spirit becomes more evident, but I feel his vision and take on the passion found on that album is a bit more straight forward. Tracks like "Against the Grail" evolve up from a set chord progression where Daemonskald breaks away from the pull of this framework with some very tasteful solo work. "Orion Awaits" does eventually go back into this formula, but not before Daemonskald gives the listener a solitary solo against a blowing gale to really offer a unique atmosphere before the track cascades off into the suffocating depression offered by some well done synth minimalism. "The Stranger" is one of those sleeper cells located in my pile of new music awaiting perusal that truly connected with me after time, as I have listened to it everyday since I popped it in just after the fall of xmas. Fans of bold and inspired music that may possess the spirit of the black metal arts without being metal at all, should really fall into splendor under Daemonskald's wondrous spell casting. Sig:Ar:Tyr is a yet unheard of entity out there in the music world making art for all the right reasons... to reach into the listeners heart and mind and turn their emotions under the artists will. Call it apocalyptic folk if you'd like, the term certainly fits, but try not to cast classification until you have felt the atmosphere for yourself.
Marty - Worm Gear

This release is really depressive one. Slow and emotional melancholic sound of great dark ambient influenced by the new Agalloch and Of The Wand And The Moon can really make you insane. 6 tracks - 30 minutes of this cold and melodic ambient can be very great way to became a depressive person. Very well played acoustic guitar parts are combined with cold, slow, emotional and also very dark keyboards and it creates a very dark atmosphere. Spoken vocal fits here very well and gives even more atmosphere! It reminds me Babylon Mistery Orchestra a lot! Very low and cold voice! But the main thing that makes this release brilliant is those heart touching guitar solos! I am huge fan of it so THE STRANGER sounds even better each time I listen it. Every one who has melancholy in their hearts must have this release!
Tomas - Veles

This is a very dark, inspiring, and flat-out impressive acoustic/synth atmospheric piece of dark music! Sig:Ar:Tyr is yet, another one-man project and hails from Ontario, Canada. Daemonskald presents the world with his visions through metal-inspired music, but without metal-inspired instruments. For this 1st challenge: acoustic guitar, spoken word and synthesizers are the only forms of wielded words. Like that Of the Wand & the Moon, Tenhi, Empyrium, Nest, or even older-Ulver... "The Stranger" is essentially dedicated to the dark, grim history and mythology of the Northern European regions. "Orion Awaits" is my favorite piece. This track stands around 9 minutes and is completely mesmerizing with lush atmosphere and classical guitar-peggios! There are 6 tracks in all and they sit comfortably at around a half-hour. "The Stranger" is a stunning pagan and folkloric opus for fans of the aforementioned bands. May this settle calmly amongst the cold-hearted.85/100
Thomas Mitchell - Metal Fanatix

(7/10) Sig:Ar:Tyr swój koncept opiera na opowiadaniu "The Stranger" autorstwa jedynego muzyka tego "zespo?u". Daemonskald nie ukrywa, z.e wielka inspiracja; dla niego jest kultura krajów pó?nocnej Europy i tam szuka natchnienia. Szes'c' utworów, jakie znalaz?o sie; na debiutanckim demo okaza?o sie; na tyle interesuja;ce dla New Aeon Media, z.e nowy album wyjdzie w?as'nie pod skrzyd?ami tego labels. Muzycznie "The Stranger" to przygoda z muzyka; klasyczna;, ale ta; gitarowa;. Gitara akustyczna to podstawa i basta. S?ychac' tez. wp?ywy ambientu, neo folka, co tylko cieszy, bo dzie;ki temu muzyka staje sie; wielowymiarowa, nabiera przestrzeni. Nie jest to z.adne pompatyczne granie, raczej delikatne a jednoczes'nie mroczne dz'wie;ki, które pieszcza; uszy. Przemykaja; zwiewnie gdzies' w pods'wiadomos'ci, na granicy snu i jawy tworza;c malownicze pejzaz.e, w które s?uchacz wpatruje sie; w niemym zachwycie. Zaskakuja;ce dla mnie by?o to, jak naturalna jest to muzyka, jak g?adko p?ynie spod palców jej autora, z jaka; ?atwos'cia; Daemonskald potrafi przelac' swoje uczucia na instrumenty. "The Stranger" brzmi jak soundtrack do opowies'ci osadzonej w ciemnych wiekach s'redniowiecza, kiedy ludzie wierzyli jeszcze w czary i demony. Sig:Ar:Tyr jest przewodnikiem po tej krainie magii i iluzji, gdzie obok ludzi przechadzaja; sie; bogowie, gdzie nawet najbardziej nieprawdopodobne rzeczy i zjawiska sa; czyms' naturalnym. Uczucia i emocje zawarte w delikatnym brzmieniu gitary klasycznej po prostu wzruszaja;, igraja; tym na odczuciach s?uchacza. Najlepiej otworzyc' sie; na te dz'wie;ki, pozwolic' im p?yna;c' ich naturalnym torem, nie walczyc' z nimi, a na pewno nikt nie poz.a?uje.
Tymothy - Nocturnal Battle of Chariots

Non c'è molto da dire sulla recente storia di questa one-man band canadese, formatasi per volere di Daemonskald lo scorso anno ed avente all'attivo quest'unico demo. "The Stranger" è un prodotto dai contenuti singolari: nonostante sia ispirato al Viking/Pagan Metal (così recita la biografia inviatami), questo demo di Metal non ha proprio nulla. Le sei tracce presenti, a parte un intermezzo di sintetizzatore intitolato "Orion Awaits", sono tutte composizioni per chitarra classica, accompagnata da lunghe note di tastiera in sottofondo e da una voce narrante che recita i testi, sempre incentrati sulla storia e la mitologia del Nord Europa. Già da questa premessa si può intuire che non sia un demo per tutti, visti appunto i suoi contenuti musicali, che potrebbero ricordare, ad esempio, "Kveldsjanger" degli Ulver. Ad essere sinceri, nonostante Daemonskald sia un chitarrista tecnicamente abbastanza dotato, bisogna ammettere che la sua creatività a livello compositivo non è altrettanto evidente. La sua abilità, purtroppo, è rilegata ad attimi sporadici, soprattutto negli assoli. Spunti interessanti, neanche così frequenti, sono affiancati a momenti troppo stanchi e monotoni, per nulla ispirati. La tendenza a ripetersi rende spesso le canzoni prolisse più del dovuto. L'ascolto di queste sei composizioni scorre via liscio come sottofondo, ma non riesce a mantenere vivo l'interesse di chi ascolta per più di qualche minuto di fila. La title-track, che trae ispirazione da una storia omonima scritta dallo stesso Daemonskald, è la più riuscita, grazie ad un feeling molto folkeggiante. Per il resto poco da aggiungere: niente di così geniale, questo è certo, ma anche ben poco che possa restare in mente. L'opener "At The Gates", per esempio, è una canzone senza né capo né coda, e non è l'unico esempio. La registrazione è ben curata, così come la confezione, anche se graficamente non siamo su livelli stratosferici: il libretto, un semplice foglio stampato fronte/retro, contiene i testi, mentre il CD è stampato professionalmente. Non consiglio o sconsiglio il demo in questione a nessuno in particolare: se vi capita tra le mani concedetegli un ascolto, ma non saranno momenti imperdibili. E' una mezzoretta troppo sorniona per meritare la sufficienza, peccato.
Shapeless Zine

SIG:AR:TYR is an ambiental/acoustic project of [Daemonskald] in which he wanted to try something different, rather than just 'usual' metal stuff. And he quite succeeded in that one. "The Stranger", his debut album represents a combination of soft acoustic guitar parts and atmospheric landscapes. The lyrics are based on his story under the same title. The transformation was well done and lyrics are direct and present this story to the reader in a really good way. Guitars are played softly and slowly, while keyboards are dropping a dark shadow to the overall atmosphere. Sometimes they sound neo-classical and mixed with spanish melodies. There are few samples here and there, used in a smart way. Not too much, just enough to create the atmosphere. Songs that impressed me are "Against The Grail", "Orion Awaits" and "At The Gates". I rather wouldn't give this album a score, because it's not a metal album, but I'm presenting it here, because some of you may find this interesting. If you like this kind of music, go on and buy "The Stranger".
Boris Todorovic - Scissors Ultimate Metal E-zine

You only looks the cover art and you will already have idea that it is the work of DaemonSkald solitary brain of this Canadian musical project...The music rotates around the acoustic guitars (with certain Spanish influence) and the synthesizers, generating a music dark ambient with clean, dense and poetic vocals. The most interesting in this work is the concept of the same one, the lyrics embrace stories of short of a man framed in something of the mythology and the legends of the north of Europe. Is necessary to stand out the talented work of the acoustic guitars (I already imagine as he would make it with an electric guitar!), but however be careful, if you like the strong riffs of electric guitar and the screams jackals then this is not for you...
Saqrangel - My Beloved Darkness

(4/5) SIG:AR:TYR is the creation of a man that calls himself Daemonskald. His musical project is deeply rooted in the history and mythologies of Northern Europe. "The Stranger" is a 6 track atmospheric journey that accompanies a short story Daemonskald created, also named "The Stranger." The music primarily is driven by well composed acoustic guitar and some soft synths to create a kind of ambience. The cd is a good listen when you are in the mood for something soft and pleasant. Daemonskald's influence from Yngwie Malmsteen can clearly be heard in his excellent guitarwork. "The Stranger" is a very good demo release. Hopefully Daemonskald's next concept will involve more instruments and possibly some distorted guitar.
Andre C. Avanessian - Trolleve

(4.5/5) An absolutely entrancing piece comprised of acoustic guitar driven atmospheric music, this six song CD is accompanied by a short story of the same name. The vocals are comprised of spoken word and narrative bits, but the music is mainly instrumental. The acoustic guitar is well-played in many different manners (which prevents the songs from dragging or boring metal listeners). The thought, effort and emotion put into the whole idea is something more bands should do (although SIG:AR:TYR is not a band per say, rather a solo project by a metal musician under the moniker of Daemonskald). I was very happy that I had the privilege to hear the music sent to me, and go through the experience of reading the story, the unspoken lyrics in the CD's booklet, and absorbing the vibe of it all. The closest technical description of the style employed I can think of is somewhat like Old Man's Child's occasional acoustic instrumental tracks (except with a little less obviously Spanish guitar influences) that invokes a mood in me similar to that that classic Bathory does. Very interesting, very solid, and extremely well thought out.
Adrian Magers - Chronicles of Chaos

(8/10) Sig:Ar:Tyr is a one man project run by a Canadian virtuoso going by the name Daemonskald. Inspired by folk music, the ways of the vikings and Yngwie Malmsteen he has crafted a conceptual release based around a short-story called "The Stranger" (written by himself) backed up by acoustic and atmospheric sounds. Daemonskald is without doubt a very talented composer and "The Stranger" is an enjoyable listen. 30 minutes of serene acoustics and keyboards is a bit straining in the long run though. Some drums and heavy guitars would be preferred. It has to be said though that it is a perfect listen while sipping on a good whiskey, lights turned down and with only silence as your companion. Trust me, I know from experience. "The Stranger" is a good disc and I hope Daemonskald will receive some well deserved attention for both the music and for his extraordinary guitar skills.
Stefan Lejon - Tartarean Desire

The CD is nicely packaged with both the cover of the CD, and the rear side, consisting of art by Gustave Dore (1832 - 1883). The cover can be seen at the SIG:AR:TYR website The website also has heaps of Dore's art. The CD insert is on glossy paper, and also has the lyrics. The track titles are: At the Gates; The Stranger; Against the Grail; Orion Awaits; Tears for Baldur; and Beyond the Dying Sun. The CD clocks in at just under 30 minutes. So, what about the music itself? The music essentially consists of strong atmospheric elements (such as wind, and what sounds like waves in the first track?, plus dark ambient-styled synth work) coupled with an acoustic guitar. The guitar work shifts between plucking and strumming, and tends to build through series of repetitions, with changes developing through cycles. I do not know how to play the guitar, but I feel I can recognise quality guitar playing, and I certainly think the guitar work here is pretty damn good. The vocals are deep and spoken. The atmospherics also shift to a kind of 'Gregorian monotone'-type sound during the CD - quite heavy and deep. There is no percussion, save for a very small (and sparse) amount at the start and end of the third track. The fourth track has a lengthy dark ambient section with no guitar work. All up, this is an excellent heathen dark acoustic piece of work, and well worth getting. The music is skillful and well produced, has been composed by a musician with a strong northern heathen committment, and leaves the listener in a state of quiet reflection (well, that's what I found).
David King - Tru Music

Dopo avervelo fatto conoscere attraverso una recensione ed un'interessantissima intervista, ha deciso di tornare indietro di qualche anno per far scoprire ai propri lettori questo piccolo gioiello firmato SIG:AR:TYR. Uscito nel 2003 con una tiratura di sole cento copie, The Stranger rappresenta il primo passo di Daemonskald, mente ed anima del progetto, verso l'assolutezza del suo particolarissimo Ambient - Viking Metal. Contrariamente a quanto si potrebbe pensare, The Stranger vanta inoltre un artwork più che dignitoso, in perfetta sintonia con il contenuto del pregevole disco.
Lo strumento preferito del compositore canadese, a detta dello stesso Daemonskald, è senza minima ombra di dubbio la chitarra classica. Se nel successivo Sailing The Seas Of Fate, pur rivestendo questa un ruolo primario, ciò non sarà poi così evidente, qui invece lo strumento a sei corde si rivela l'assoluto protagonista. Esso funge infatti da base per le melodie, le quali di conseguenza si sviluppano tenendone sempre conto. Ne conseguono talvolta una leggera monotonia ed una discreta dose di noia, soprattutto per chi non ha grande dimestichezza con l'Ambient, un genere dove le atmosfere evocate devono inevitabilmente prendere il sopravvento sulla tecnica del musicista e sulla complessità delle sue canzoni. Questo accade alla lettera in The Stranger, che quindi rimane un disco adatto, bene o male, esclusivamente agli appassionati del genere. Prendere in esame ogni singolo brano sarebbe pressoché inutile, dal momento che il demo, per poter essere apprezzato in ogni sua peculiarità, va ascoltato necessariamente in blocco; dopotutto la sua durata (mezz'ora circa) lo consente senza troppi problemi. The Stranger, inoltre, non presenta parti cantate, se non alcune brevi narrazioni di sapore epico. Il disco è però accompagnato da una preziosa pergamena che narra una breve storia fantasy, elemento questo che tiene unite tutte le tracce dell'opera. Il demo è infatti un conciso ed intenso concept, anche se la mancanza di testi veri e propri potrebbe fare presupporre il contrario.
Il racconto è incentrato sull'incontro casuale fra un mercenario senza scrupoli, privo di un'anima ed incapace di provare emozioni, ed un vecchio stranero dallo strano aspetto. All'anziano saggio basta uno sguardo, una frase, per riaccendere nell'animo dell'uomo, ormai provato dal suo vagabondare senza meta, il fuoco della passione e della vita. Dopo che lo straniero svanisce misteriosamente all'orizzonte, il mercenario decide di riprendere il proprio viaggio, dirigendosi, stanco ed affamato, verso il villaggio più vicino. Lungo il tragitto egli vede tuttavia una luce, una specie di fuoco. Avvicinatosi per controllare cosa fosse, scorge inaspettatamente un corpo riverso a terra con il capo immerso nelle acque di un fiume. Avvicinatosi ulteriormente, afferra perciò la testa dell'uomo, visibilmente morto, ben sapendo di non poter essere scosso dalla macabra visione, considerato il suo passato da crudele assassino. Accade però che il mercenario rimane letteralmente sconvolto dalla terribile scoperta: il sangue gli si gela all'improvviso e smette di scorrere nelle vene, nulla ha più senso. Quel volto, era il suo...
Splendida storia a parte, The Stranger non merita certo quanto il lavoro successivo del buon Daemonskald, quel Sailing The Seas Of Fate capace di amalgamare temi vichinghi alla tenebrosità dell'Ambient, ma resta ciò nonostante un demo di tutto rispetto e ricco di buone idee. Consigliato dunque agli appassionati, mentre, per chi volesse conoscere questo grande artista d'oltreoceano, Sailing The Seas Of Fate rimane comunque la scelta migliore.
Jacopo Prada-