Monday, July 27, 2009
Album Review: Crom - Vengeance
Artist: Crom (Germany)
Album Title: Vengeance
Record Label: Pure Steel Records (Germany)
Now here is a pretty interesting project. The one-man band of a former Dark Fortress guitarist, Crom is kind of a mix of traditional and power metal filtered through the lens of Bathory's "Viking period." If that sounds appealing to you, it's because it should. The band has a great aesthetic, driven by some solid songwriting and the appealing vocals of Crom himself. His vocals are strong and melodic, perhaps not unlike Quorthon in the moments when he actually sang pretty well (as in "The Ravens" or "Ring of Gold"), but much more confident. They sound much better and natural to me than "power metal" vocals, and I'm sure others will appreciate the lack of "black metal" style vocals.
There's a nice variety among the 10 tracks that make up Crom's debut full-length, Vengeance. There are shorter and more direct songs (like opener "Wings of Fire" and, ahem "The Fire"); some longer, epic tunes (like "The Restless King" and "Hammer of the Gods"); and even a couple ballads ("Crom" and "A Life Unbearable"). Some lyrics seem to be inspired by Norse folklore, perhaps through Bathory, but they're too vague for me to call this "Viking metal." I feel more comfortable calling it something like "heroic metal," instead. The lyrics, I feel, are the only somewhat weak link on the album, but I may feel this way because I was expecting a stronger influence of paganism rather than what sounds like more modern fantasy-style themes. This probably won't bother most people, though. One song that really seems out of place, however, is "A Life Unbearable," which isn't a bad song, musically, but the lyrics are more personal and despairing, as if Crom wrote them in a tear-filled evening after his girlfriend broke up with him. It ends in true emo style with the repeated line, "I'll end my life!"
That hiccup aside, what remains is quite a good album. At times Crom really does sound like Bathory, with his use of layered "Viking choir" vocals and (appropriate) epic guitar leads. And I think the more traditional structure of the songs will appeal to a larger variety of metal fans.
There's not really much else I have to say about the album. It's easy enough to find samples online, so I encourage you to judge for yourself. The great vocals, solid musicianship, and strong songwriting come together to form an album that any fan of heroic-themed metal should check out.