Friday, April 29, 2011

Crimfall - The Writ Of Sword (2011)

Finland's Crimfall have charged into war head on, looking to tear down the walls of the "same old" folk metal. 'The Writ Of Sword," the followup to 2009's "As The Path Unfolds," doesn't abandon all that came before, but rather embraces it. After becoming an official five piece after the release of their debut album, the band have grown in more than just number. They have returned, focused and more efficient than before.

A perfect opening for the album, "Dicembre" finds you traveling through the cold, accompanied by strings. A short but fitting introduction to the initial assault of "Storm Before The Calm." Here is where we find the band at their best, both musically and vocally. Alternating periods of thrashing and chugging, kept in motion with sizzling cymbal crashes. A sharp contrast in vocal styles, delivered in a point/counter-point fashion at times, finds all gaps filled with backing chants. Horns and strings are a strong addition.

Displaying one of the most identifiable traits of folk metal, the use of ethnic chants, "Frost Upon Their Graves" is a step toward the epic. Crisp, clean and well executed, the song is a building block to bigger and better things. "Cahceravga," a short, chilling interlude, gives you the feeling of walking along a battlefield, littered with the fallen. "Shackles Of The Moirai" is a five minute folk masterpiece. Everything good about the genre is present; from the gutteral screams, to the beautifully crafted instrumentals, padded with a heavenly female voice. Heavy and bruising, yet somehow soft and moving.

The albums title track, complete with the dark call to arms, builds to a fury, making you feel as though the battle is upon you. A driving, yet smooth bass line compliments the orchestration, with blood curdling screams coming over the top of it all. The clanging of bells draws the track to a close, and leads us into a breathtaking instrumental, titled "Geadgai." Layered and textured with an array of sounds, including the darkest of chanting, musicians of all background will find something to worthy of tapping your foot.

Beautiful acoustic guitars and female vocals thrust you into the fray, the symphonic battle of "Silver And Bones." Each bridge and chorus, a battle. Each verse a reprieve. This is as grandiose a song as you will ever find in the folk world. Delicate interludes break the track up, allowing for a breath before plunging in head first again. Eerie strings take you to your final march, the somber yet up tempo "Son Of North." As the battle ends, and the music fades, you may feel empty.

As battering as it is refreshing, the album covers the entire 360° scope of folk metal, without diluting it to a blur. However, while it clocks in around the 45 minute mark, it almost seems too short. In the sea of folk metal, this is often a good thing. But, seeing the evolution of Crimfall unfold on this disc, you may be thirsty for more. Prepare for the next battle. The frozen north has a new shining star.


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