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A Riddle, A Song - 95%

GuntherTheUndying, May 13th, 2015

“Riddle of Steel” is something extraordinary. Sons of Crom, this Swedish duo taking after the gods of epic heavy metal, is to this current age of metal what The Aeneid is to Fifty Shades of Grey. It is most applicable to relate Sons of Crom to a mixture of Atlantean Kodex’s niche of epic heavy metal and Bathory. The style of “Riddle of Steel” harkens back to an era when heroic metal was authentically heroic, told through valiant instrumentation capturing the triumph of victory and tasting the sorrow of lonesomeness. Most important, “Riddle of Steel” is made a masterpiece by the hands that have crafted it with unseen precision and care, not the glamorous tools and tricks that could have been at Sons of Crom’s disposal.

Bands like Manilla Road, Bathory, and Atlantean Kodex capture a scaling, triumphant view of heavy metal and its possibilities. Sons of Crom is easily assimilated among these groups because they translate a semblance that, while avoiding excessive amounts of cheese or comical explosions à la Manowar, manages to convey unparalleled emotional intensity. Calling Sons of Crom an epic heavy/doom metal band is correct, but only the tip of the creative iceberg. Musically, stout and robust riffs propel forward on driving rhythms which take on a variety of forms. “Call of the Black Mountain” makes harsh vocals and driving riffs its foundation, conjuring flares of classic Bathory influence; whereas “Golden Gates” and “Victory” lean on acoustic parts and serene melodies to express glory, misery, and the thin line between.

Every song is uniquely crafted and exceptional in its own way. The folk vibe stitched to the hefty guitar work and energetic rhythms of “Cimmerian Dance” dangles the instrumental between the determined might of heavy metal and the idiosyncratic approach of truly exceptional songwriters who are among the finest creative metal minds on the planet. “Myrkrarfar” and “Master of Shadows” are stuffed with superb melodies and excellent lead guitar parts, feats which never dwindle or spoil. “Seven Spells (The Riddle of Steel),” just a piano instrumental to end the album, is full of emotion and the wonderful melancholy Sons of Crom integrates into the album so naturally.

The vocals, untouched by studio effects, capture the power of Sons of Crom’s atmosphere while matching the organic sound quality and the extraordinary standard of “Riddle of Steel.” Although comparing the group to Bathory or other similar projects is justifiable, Sons of Crom is in a league of its own, sounding unique and tremendous throughout this journey of epic heavy metal glory. This is not a part of today’s overproduced, gaudy nonsense masquerading as epic metal—Wintersun fans need not apply. “Riddle of Steel” is a masterpiece of a record, and the best album of 2014 that you have yet to hear.

This review was written for: www.Thrashpit.com