“For fans of Turisas, Finntroll and Nightwish,” the advertisement read. How could I possibly pass that up? I’m definitely a fan of Turisas and Finntroll, though, Nightwish I’ve pretty much been able to do without—sans diva or not. But reading that tagline, I wondered how any band could actually manage to blend these three bands into one cohesive whole. “No,” I thought to myself, “it’s really not possible to do in a convincing manner.” Apparently, and to my great dissatisfaction, I was wrong.
I was not convinced by Crimfall at first. I listened to it up close and laughed, it felt like a caricature of modern Finnish metal—heavily produced with a metric ton of epic orchestration, operatic vocals and chugging guitars like Nightwish and Turisas. These traits are mixed together with the folky feeling of Finntroll records, particularly in the vein of Nattfödd, with the misty feelings and interludes/segues from Visor om slutet. These things are blended together into, tight, powerful songs that burst out of your speakers like an angry Finnish viking,1 with the strong, addictive melodies worming their way into your brain and setting root.
The song writing on this album is both interesting and fun. The classic folk metal instrumentations are, of course, ubiquitous throughout. The big orchestrations, peppered with a healthy dose of accordion, the mouth harp and folk sounds punctuate the songs with their unique (but also familiar) sounds. Helena Haaparanta, Crimfall‘s singer, who does operatic vocals for the project is stellar. Her voice ranges between formal opera styles—better and more enjoyable than Tarja from Nightwish—to a smoother, poppy vocal style, which makes the album dynamic and fun. She balances these other styles with the soft and ethereal on the track “Hundred Shores Different,” and joik throughout. Her performance is impressive and shows off a deep talent that few bands have the possibility of taking advantage of.
In addition to that, the black metal vocals are also quite good—roughly peppering the tracks with their power and intertwining with the clean vocals in a fluid way (sort of like a modern incarnation of Theatre of Tragedy, but way more black metal). Really, what the advertisement claims is true: if you’re a fan of any three of those aforementioned bands, particularly Nightwish or Turisas, this record will totally float your boat. It has all of the good things about Nightwish without the cheese or glam aspects, for example. And it has the sheer, immense power of Turisas or Ensiferum.
In the finest tradition of power metal, which is in essence “feel good” heavy metal these days, Crimfall have crafted a record that is a pleasure to listen to. It doesn’t really offer anything particularly new and/or innovative, despite having a sound that is recognizable as their own. But in spite of that fact, it continuously draws the listener back for one more listen over and over again.
- Despite the fact that Finns were not actually involved in the viking era in Scandinavia, they still manage to regularly make viking/folk metal of the highest quality—really producing way more excellent Viking metal than the Scandinavian countries in a lot of way. So while I realize that there really were no Finnish vikings, I think they deserve the title anyway. ↩