Register Forgot login?

© 2002-2021
Encyclopaedia Metallum

Best viewed
without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
or higher.

Privacy Policy

Utterly brilliant amalgamation of styles - 98%

Jophelerx, December 2nd, 2014

It's always refreshing to me when a band can't be put solidly into one camp or another, stylistically; not clear-cut bands are a bad thing by any means, but sometimes I like to hear something different. Good bands that easily fall into a single genre are wise for knowing their strengths, as providing something new that's also good can be very difficult, and deciding your proportion of stylistic influences just right is often immensely challenging. However, when it really works, you get something awesome like Sons of Crom's Riddle of Steel. The name alone should be a clue of the band's good taste if you like Robert E. Howard (as you should). Heavy/doom is a proficient descriptor of the band's style, I suppose, but the influences are really all over the map. At different times I hear Bathory, Omen, Mercyful Fate, perhaps even Running Wild at times. Yet it's seamless and cohesive enough that I'd never call even a single song "Bathory worship" or "Mercyful fate worship"; to call them derivative of even their largest influence, which seems likely to be Bathory, would be way off the fucking mark. These guys play their own style, and it's awesome.

The lead vocalist (not sure which band member it is, since both are listed as vocalists) is a goddamn machine, with an exceptionally versatile delivery ranging from Quorthon-esque yells to soothing deep cleans and even some falsetto lines. He handles all of it with grace, always sounding perfect and transitioning without a problem. The songwriting is equally versatile; you've got dark, occult numbers like "Myrkrarfar," galloping epics like "Master of Shadows," and huge, melodious ballads like "Golden Gates." This album truly transcends genres and styles, proving its utmost songwriting prowess as easily as the lead singer proves his. The timing is perfect, the production is perfect, the songwriting is perfect...I'm just astounded to hear something like this especially from such a young band; I can think of only two other debut albums to achieve such a thing so perfectly, and those are Slauter Xstroyes' Winter Kill and Psychotic Waltz's A Social Grace, both of which are masterpieces in their own right.

Strewn throughout are some black and death metal influences as well, albeit more briefly and sometimes more subtle ("Call of the Black Mountain" has perhaps the most overt passage). I'd have trouble naming specific bands since I'm not terribly knowledgeable on extreme metal, but the vocalist does some pretty awesome black metal-esque shrieks and there is some definite death metal influence in some of the riffs. I don't even know what genre to call the instrumental "Cimmerian Dance" with its lead violin and flute and riffs that are sort of "heavy metal with some prog influence and maybe some doom as well," but it's fucking brilliant. Blows every folk metal band I've ever heard away by a mile, and there aren't even any vocals! The other instrumental, "Seven Spells," is a beautiful, moving piano piece, seemingly out of place in the album but still fantastic.

"Victory" is pretty clearly the centerpiece of the album, clocking in at over twelve minutes. It's a huge, sprawling doom number with a pervasive sense of urgency and lurking despair that builds throughout its progression, enveloping the listener in an utterly awesome and terrifying world. The closest comparison I can make is to Bathory's "Blood Fire Death" (song), but with a lot more doom, and somehow, yes, even more epic! This song just utterly destroys everything else in its path, quite possibly reaching top 10 metal songs I've ever heard in my life (and I don't say that lightly). Overall, the only complaints I can really make about this album is that sometimes the songwriting seems *too* varied, like the songs don't have enough to do with each other and don't make the album as a whole worth listening to from beginning to end, but that's hardly much of a complaint. With their debut album, Sons of Crom mark themselves metal gods, and I eagerly await their next release! I don't care what you're a fan of; if you're reading this and you're not an utter fucktard, go get this NOW!!!