One word comes to mind when listening to this album: Epic.
First, a bit of history. Crimfall is the brainchild of Jakke Viitala who, after recording some demos for himself decided he liked the material so much that he sought out two vocalists: Mikko Häkkinen and Helena Haaparanta to help make his vision come to life. Throw in a bevy of talented studio musicians and pitch perfect production and you have one powerful piece of metal musicanship.
Crimfall falls squarely into some new range between progressive, folk, and viking metal. Häkkinen provides the harsh gutteral vocals familiar to fans of viking metal while Haaparanta’s smooth, silky vocals are on par with anything Nightwish has to offer. Viitala employs a broad range of guitar work from the heavy crunch and ponderous tempo of vikining metal to a clean toned delicate approach to some technically trickery that typically rears its head when you least expect. However the album would be nothing without the studio musicians who add a texture and sense of the grandiose that is hard to ignore.
The opening track Neothera Awakening surprised me and will likely have new listeners wondering what movie it came from. For some reason it had me reliving fond memories of playing Baldur’s Gate II. As the Path Unfolds plays out like it should be an epic fantasy so I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that I found my thoughts drifting in that direction. The occaisonal sound effect does reinforce the album’s almost theatrical production but never veers into the realm of something likey Night Falls on Middle Earth.
There are moments on this album when I feel like it might be slipping into more pedestrian and well traveled areas of the metal genre but this is almost always immediatley assauged by some new bit or original touch that suddenly swoops in and carries you away on some new and interesting journey. Despite my love for this album I think that it’ll be an aquired taste for some. By combining several different niches of the metal genre Crimfall has the potential of being a band that appeals to some of the more disaparate areas of metal fandom but at the same time the folk and progressive trappings of the album will due little to draw fans who are already set against both. Check out the band’s myspace page to hear some free samples, I think the power and quality of the music really speaks for itself. Regardless As the Path Unfolds is a remarkably mature debut from a new band and I for one can only hope for greater heights in future endeavors.