There is something striking about an album that is from a fairly new band on the music scene, especially when they’ve been releasing music steadily for the last few months. Now with their latest offering, Riddles Of Steel, Sons Of Crom return with their first full studio album. Comprising of songs that have been broken down into an EP and single before, it’s nice to see the tracks in their correct alignment, with of course some new material to get the ear around.
The brilliant two piece comprised of: Janne Posti, armed with vocals, guitars, bass and keyboard playing duty and Liro Sarkki, covering the drum and vocals labour. Clearly drawing inspiration from Nordic mythology, heroic cinema adventures and Quorthon’s undying legacy.
There is no doubt about there being something majestic about this release, although at just over forty minutes in length, it seems like its pushed for space in a few places. Then again, at the release rate that the band have, it wouldn’t be too surprising if they release another EP, a series of singles or an album within the next year.
That’s not to say it’s rushed, its all of a high standard, from the start of the album you’re met with a tangible mix of early black metal with a hopeful blend of not completely clean vocals. Similar to Sentenced, Satyricon, non-high singing of Rob Halford, with a music enticement of primordial beats of an ancient craft behind them.
Riddle Of Steel opens with Myrkrarfar whose overtones of gothic waves incorporate an electronic feedback, while a steady flow of momentum crashes against the musical ship. It touches on the sound dynamics that are becoming somewhat of a standard Scandinavian special, being that of a melody of a whipping left to right sound behind an acoustic interlude (think Opeth, Wintersun etc).
As the gentle awakening of track three, Golden Gates, gets underway, it’s hard not to think of another list of similarities that the band share with the Swedish scene. As it progresses into something that does touch upon forging their own style and sound, as the meatier black metal number Call Of The Black Mountain turns the pace up to another chapter in the tale. Within the album, its barrage of harsh vocals, extreme triplet drumming are a far cry from the previous track. That makes a wonderfully dark and mindfully mysterious journey across the lands of time forgotten, to bring something form the past back.
It’s not long before Cimmerian Dance starts another turn of pace, with its full-fledged tribute to the Viking days long gone and almost like a more folk infused version of Amon Amarth. With high sweeping guitars and no vocals, it’s a joyous celebration of the art of an epic interlude. It’s nice to see what the band can do outside of having a traditional vocal and song mix, as for some, I can see why there have been some mixed reviews about the vocals so far.
Having said that, there are some truly spectacular moments that are exploratory and adventurous, such as the second to last track Victory demonstrates. Even if it does go into a bit of slowed down Iced Earth musical vibe, its apparent what the band have tried to touch on, creating a new dynamic to what seemed to be an over harvested genre. However, the holistic approach of blending the genres together has made for something of a masterpiece from the Scandinavian troupe.
As the final track Seven Spells (The Riddle Of Steel) starts up with a high piano note, it becomes apparent that the album has been a large tale, rather than a set of individual songs. The track itself has the sound behind it that would complement a Viking funeral, with the final crack into high atmosphere, it’s truly a beautiful ending to the story.
Scribed by: Ashlinn Nash