Crimfall - As The Path Unfolds
Napalm Records
Epic Folk Metal
11 songs (46:52)
Release year: 2009
Napalm Records
Reviewed by Pete
Album of the month

It is quite common, as a reviewer, to be sent promo albums that contain voice-overs. It's a device to prevent unscrupulous reviewers from file sharing the MP3s. Whether this method works is open to debate. From a personal point of view I find that you quickly get used to someone telling you that, "you are listening to the new album from whomever". But every now and again an album comes along that contain voice-overs that really grate the nerves and pucker the sphincter. This is because the album is just so damn good that you know you'll be forking out your hard earned cash to get the pure version. Crimfall's debut release As The Path Unfolds is one such album.

Crimfall began life in August 2007 in Finland and obviously chose the worst name possible for their band. Apart from the unspectacular mantle, Crimfall comprises of two vocalists, Mikko Hakkinen and Helena Haaparanta respectively, and Jakke Viitala on guitars and orchestra (Orchestra? What? The whole thing). The back of the promo declared it as 'Epic Folk Metal' and the cover is a lone warrior stood amidst a battlefield with spear in hand looking upon the dead that litter the floor. I must admit, my hopes weren't high prior to pressing play but what emitted from the speakers is what we reviewers secretly hope for, an exhilarating surprise.

Guitarist Jakke Viitala is the brainchild of this band and the music. It is quite literally genius. This album is oozing with atmosphere, melody, grit, metal, variation and class. It is extremely well balanced allowing equal share for the Metal, the Folk and the Epic tendencies. Imagine Ensiferum and Epica spawning a love child to the soundtrack of Lord Of The Rings and you'll get a little flavour of what to expect from As The Path Unfolds. The production is huge. It can often be the case that albums boasting large orchestral parts have either a cheesy sounding orchestra or it is included at the expense of the metal and vice versa. But this disc contains powerful brass, strings, horns and choirs along with the big guitars.

From the beginning of the soundtrack-esque Neothera Awakening the power of the music sets you back a little because you're half expecting something a little more downbeat and subdued from a debut album. Crimfall delivers 'Epic' from the first moment and thumps in with the metal with The Crown Of Treason. I've not quite figured out what this song is about yet because it contains the sound of a blacksmith's hammer, but also the burning of hot metal on flesh suggesting it could be a torture chamber. It could even be both but any suggestions would be grateful. Wildfire Season is where the 'Folk' comes in thanks to a brilliant introduction from the velvet voice of Helena Haaparanta. Mikko and Helena, for the most part, play the beauty and beast roles within Crimfall. Mikko gives you the screams and the grunts and Helena the soaring melodies. Usually this style can bore the pants off you very quickly but the way this album and every song has been pieced together sets it apart from the likes of After Forever and Epica.

I have to admire Jakke because blending three distinct styles can usually dilute each one into a tuneless mess but he's managed to get this style of music almost perfect. If you like metal with a huge symphonic backing then this is for you. If you like folk metal then this is for you. If you like goth/female fronted metal then this is for you. If you just like good, heavy yet interesting music then this is for you. My only complaint is that it's not long enough. A huge epic to end on would have made As The Path Unfolds more complete. But, as it stands, it has made me craving for more, which is probably the point. My first job though is to buy the proper version as the voice-overs are making my leg giggle in frustration.

Killing Songs :
All Of Them
Pete quoted 96 / 100
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