Firstly, I have to mention how ecstatic I am to have the opportunity to review this album in full. I jumped on the kickstarter early on, unable to contain my excitement and though I have to wait a bit longer for a physical copy of the album, I’ll keep spinning the digital release until my speakers blow out. And for those keeping count, it was 5. I reviewed 5 of the songs before the album’s release which means EVERY music video! And I love them ALL!
Lyrre not only takes neo-medieval and folk metal vibes into their core but, set themselves apart from even our wildest ideals by pressing forward and giving us hit after hit, wave after wave of brilliant production value in music videos, and songs that seep into our soul, making us think beyond the realms of reality and dream.
Formed by ex-Eluveitie hurdy-gurdy master Michalina Malisz and her husband Piotr Martuś, Lyrre has set themselves up to take on challenges beyond the border of any genre. Incorporating modern music production and songwriting while collaborating with artists like Bad Omens‘ Noah Sebastian, who helped to co-produce the album, Lyrre goes beyond musical expectations and boundaries to demand bigger, and conquer greater ground.
Not All Who Dream Are Asleep began simply, with a single track written in 2020 by Michalina and Piotr that quickly became project of heartfelt inspiration and intimately shaped concepts. Taking inspirations from mythology, literature, and the universal human sense of fear, elation, and victory NAWDAA is a collection of songs that represent acceptance, balance, and triumph. Each track is complex and vivid with shattering hurdy-gurdy melodies, sincere vocals, shadowy guitar riffs, and rich production.
Lyrics are richly coated in poetic metaphors, pulled from mythological inspiration and graced by empirical disorder. However, Nihilism is not the victor of muse, with every song meant to leave listeners with a sense of longing and assurance that embracing our struggles will free us from a life simply not worth living.
Lyrre is composed of members Michalina Malisz (vocals, hurdy-gurdy, songwriting), Piotr Martuś (guitar, songwriting), Miłosz Buśko (bass), and Tomasz Młóciński (drums) while Noah Sebastian (Bad Omens) co-produced the album, and Lasse Lammert (Alestorm, Windrose) mixed and mastered this creation.
As we descend into the album, we begin with the valiant title track, “Not All Who Dream Are Asleep,” that rings in on feverish hooves. The galloping drum beats that begin our journey rise with atmospheric fog before the guitars begin and our new world opens. Vivid and deep, like the painting of mountain peaks against a grey, rainy sky flood our minds, and we stare beyond the window pane for what awaits. The hurdy-gurdy chimes in, the speed building and the excitement mounting within us. We grab our packs, put on our boots and step out the door, ready to face whatever the world has to throw at us with a mixture of excitement and anxiety in our heart. It’s so delicate in moments yet, impactful in others and showcases Lyrre‘s contrasting and seamless compositions in just over 3 minutes. An instrumental track that sets the stage for our adventure, and the path we’ve chosen to take.
“North Star” brought intrigue and surprise to fans of old, the Eluveitie followers, and new listeners alike as it came with the Kickstarter reveal. The hurdy-gurdy into peaked our curiosities to lure us in and the heaviness kept us firmly in place. Michalina’s vocals both shock, and settle upon us with a tone that’s a combination of somber and foreboding yet angelic and other-worldly.
“I’m not scared, even if I’m wrong, even if I’m wrong. Waves will bring me to the shore right where I belong, right where I belong,” offers us a verse that resonates within; to take a chance, to make our move, and jump off the ledge. We even get a taste of the album’s title in the poetic line, “not all who wander are lost, not all who dream are asleep,” in such a palpable calling as to have us spread our wings to soar. It’s the vocal broadcast of the album and it perfectly sets the mood for the struggle we’re about to undertake.
You can read my previous review for “North Star” via the direct link!
“Divide and Conquer” is what started it all, bringing in the heavy hurdy-gurdy goodness and building up speed and viciousness, moving through genres like emotions. The flow from “North Star” to this track on the album is almost seamless and brilliantly showcases Lyrre‘s methodolgy in moving from the slow and fearful to one who willingly embraces their challenges. It has the emotional shift we all feel when taking on something new, or coming to terms with what stands before us. It’s the battle of change vs. stagnation, and the choice we have to make.
You can read my full, previously released review for “Divide and Conquer” via the direct link!
Once more, in blazing transition, Lyrre brings in “Call in the Wind“, shifting from our fiery passion to one of hesitation and inner turmoil. It’s the vision in our mind, the one that lingers on heart and soul, to “embrace the night, to find the light within,” as this track suggests. If we are to take the leap, we must do so before second thoughts take over and we back down.
You can read my full review for “Call in the Wind” via the direct link, and why it remains as one of my favourite tracks on this album for its soulful depth, and poetic lyrics.
We transcend to the “Valley of Tears” with an intro that sees Michalina’s feverish hurdy-gurdy skills blend with heavy metal guitars for a strange, medieval feel that makes us draw our swords. It’s got sway, and mesmerizes with the enchanting shift in tempo. It takes the well of emotions building within, as we “lose our breaths marching through this valley of tears,” as if to overwhelm us completely. We struggle to bite back, to fight the instincts kicking up from deep within, to steady our course and press on. One of the heaviest on this album, it adds the perfect counter to the tracks that had us questioning ourselves in mind, to the ones now rising up against our spirit, asking the more difficult questions of not “can we do this,” but, “will we do this?”
“Chariot of Sun” still has me singing at the top of my lungs every time it comes on, ESPECIALLY the chorus. The moment the single dropped it went straight to my heart and still holds strong as another favourite from this album (I truly can’t pick just one!) with the heavy atmosphere, passionate hurdy-gurdy, and expressive lyrics.
“Maybe I don’t have a choice, but I’ll make it worth it. I will find sufficient words, and I speak, I speak,” still send’s me absolutely soaring.
You can read my full review for “Chariot of Sun” via the direct link!
To continue, we meet with “Peaceful Chaos” that takes the reins from our previous venture, bringing an eerie calm so we can collect ourselves but it seems filled with dread. The heavy bass line combined with the foreboding hurdy-gurdy notes only builds our madness, pointing to our descent into chaos complete. It’s a powerful track with divine sections of lyrical pause and energy that taps into the panic within yet alludes with lines like “surrender serene, nothing else but peace.” It’s chaotic yet all so captivating with the scars of turmoil, both literal and inner painting in streaks of lightning and bloodshed, to give rest though war rages all around us. A track that quickly overtook me from its first play-through and had me listening again and again to truly visualize the lyrical depth that this song creates beyond reality’s gaze.
“Forgive and Forget” comes in like a carriage of strangers riding into town; no words are spoken but the eyes upon you lack a friendly warmth. The folk feel is deep in this track as its a song that moves from our conflict to one that settles in to search for answers and understanding.
“Look back with mercy, with one last hesitant glance and then step forward on the path to death and rebirth.”
This track takes us to the end of the road, where we come to terms with our journey and ourselves; to forgive and forget, to make the necessary amends and accept what’s before us so that we can let go and truly be free.
Another favourite of mine that closes out the album is “Crown“, and a homage to Persephone, the Queen of the Underworld. Meant to be played loud and sang along to, this track still lingers in my head and I find myself humming the chorus quite often. it’s not only a homage to Persephone but the titular end to our journey; how we, and our Queen have not only come to terms but, we have learned, survived, accepted, and grown to transcend the burdens upon us and free ourselves from the chains holding us down.
“I am wearing this crown, made of the mourning and broken heart. I turned dust into gold. Now I reign as the Queen of the Underworld,” just as we reign over our lives, the decisions we make, and the life we choose to create.
You can read my full review for “Crown” via the direct link!
As a whole, Lyrre‘s album not only showcases a divine blend of genres and inspirations but, has a way of perfectly capturing and expressing every moment through the journey we undertake in order to change and grow as an individual. From “Chariot of Sun” and its path through different skies, never bound to one set horizon, to Persephone owning the title thrust upon her in “Crown” we learn not to be bound to one ideal or way of thinking, to change, accept ourselves, and keep moving forward. This album is a masterpiece of lyrical expression and melodic tone, taking in so many genres, experimenting, and keeping a message throughout whilst still boasting poetic lines and velvet imagery that makes us dream both asleep and awake. It’s strong and unique, with Michalina’s classic hurdy-gurdy, Piotr’s perfectly timed riffs, and the band’s overall chemistry to not only create something musically but visually stunning. Lyrre has given us a debut album that will last throughout the ages, one we will look back on to see their message stand true as they continue to grow and progress as a band, and I, for one, will be there for every moment.
You can grab your own copy of Lyrre‘s Not All Who Dream Are Asleep album that debuted March 30th, 2023 via their Bandcamp, and support them on Tidal, Spotify, and Apple Music as well! You can also stay up-to-date with all of Lyrre‘s videos, announcements, and much more by following them on Facebook, Instagram, and subscribing to their YouTube channel!
My favourite tracks from the album: Call in the Wind, Chariot of Sun, Crown, Not All Who Dream Are Asleep.