Crimfall – As the path unfolds – 4.5/5
So, just in case you missed it this is another one of those bands I needed to post before writing the review. In fact, I mentioned how good they sounded before the album was released, based on the little that they had released promoting it. Listening to the full album, I can proudly state that this is quite possibly the best folk metal release since Equilibrium’s “Saga’s,” which places it pretty damn high.
There is currently no shortage of folk metal bands around, with the community seeing a sudden surge in two-bit bands who sound largely like they use the idea as a gimmick, a joke. Brainchild of one man who plays all the instruments – and believe me when I say there’s no shortage of violins, cello’s accordions and various other instruments worked into the music with an air of magic, perfectly complementing the vocal work, remaining distinct between tracks and interesting without ever drawing too much focus.
The best thing about the musicianship is the atmosphere it yields. Deep, bombastic, and with more than a few subtle tones from German classical, for the most part it sounds as though it was something that could have been lifted straight from a Lord of the Rings film. This isn’t just a term being thrown around, this for me is the very definition of the word epic, a monstrosity easily likened to a Moonsorrow masterpiece, and yet somehow improved upon with added variety in the melodies and harmonies.
When Helena Haaparanta of Tacere announced her departure, I was disappointed, hoping for another flash of brilliance from one of the better bands in her field. One thing I did not anticipate was her work with this, sounding brilliant in a whole new setting, surpassing her previous achievements. With a tremendous variety of tones, what she brings here is not dissimilar to her work with ‘Tacere,’ providing at times some of the best ‘beauty and the beast’ style vocals I can think of, playing off the other vocalist as well as providing her own small additions. The second vocalist, usually more akin to growling in black metal feels at times a little lacklustre, easily understood adding an almost wintery chill to the atmosphere produced. Unfortunately, this for me contrasts many of the warmer tones produced by the instrumentation. Despite this, it still works out fairly well in the end, allowing for a sustained interest with little detraction from the atmosphere.
This is a must have for all folk metal fans, a real shoe-in for my affections this year. The mastermind behind the operation, originating from a power metal band with only a demo to their name has arrived and in an instant put out a phenomenally good album. Leagues ahead of much of their competition, prepare to transported to the hills of Norway in this epic tale of Viking glory.
Highlights: Crown of Treason, Wildfire Season, Shadow Hearth