Crimfall: As the Path Unfolds

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Crimfall: As the Path Unfolds
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Crimfall: As the Path Unfolds
Folk Metal, Power Metal, Symphonic Metal, Viking Metal
Napalm Records
February 25th, 2009
Release length: 49:53
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Crimfall are far from an original band, but their debut album, As The Path Unfolds… is still a nice entry into the now overflowing Folk Metal field. A three piece act at the time of recording this release, the group utilized session members for some of the more folk instruments concentrating on creating a somewhat over-the-top sounding Symphonic and Power Metal fusion with clean singing female vocals and harsh male shouting vocals as back-up. Sound like pretty much everything you’ve already heard in this and plenty of other genres? Well, yeah, ok, it is.

But, as a whole the album is actually really entertaining. As stated, the band tries to bring this over-the-top orchestral Symphonic element to the music, but doesn’t go too far over to make the album sound insanely corny. Actually, one of the nicer touch is the symphonics in the background that often fluidly go into a more ambient moment to present a setting for the song that could very well be placed nicely in a fantasy film. Some of the material on here is very powerful and heavy, especially the openning track “The Crown Of Treason”, but yet the band has some lighter material on here as well that relies on coming off beautiful, but, sadly, it is some of these tracks that often come off a bit lame. But one thing that actually makes this album stand out a bit is the instrumentals, which sound are very well composed and are enough to captivate any listener.

But, after your first go through, you’ll start to notice a few things that may not have been so apparent in the beginning. First of all, the female vocals don’t quite work with the music being played all the time, and even sound like a bit of an off version of former Nightwish vocalist, Tarja. Even the track “Where Waning Winds Lead” sounds as if she uses the same kind of vocal structure used in their cover version of the song “Over The Hills And Far Away” in the chorus. Aside that, she, and sometimes even the male vocalist, can sound as if they have speech impediments on one song, and the next speak English fluidly. Take “The Crown Of Treason” for example, which you almost have to reach the lyrics, yet “Wildfire Season” is completely audible. Perhaps it’s just the layering on the female vocals, but the harsher shouting male vocals are easier to understand then hers, and it’s actually really frustrating since she really pulls off some beautiful singinig moments.

As stated, the heavier tracks are really the true essence of the album, while many of the moments and tracks the revolve around beauty, or even just added passion vocally seem to hinder the album a bit. The female voice on here is beautiful, but often there’s either too much going on in the background, or it sounds like it’s overlayered or even lazily performed once you hear the talent brought to the mix. “Where Waning Winds Lead” is the first more-beauty oriented song and it comes off a bit dull, but “Aubade” is a jaw dropping ballad where she really shines against the symphonic elements that back her up. Aside the vocals, what else is frustrating is the band apparently floating through different lands in their music, having one moment feel like you’re in at a blacksmith’s, then going to war, such as with “The Crown Of Treason”, or as if you’re in some sort of medievil festival setting like on “Hundred Shores Distant”, giving off a fantastical feeling through much of the album, and then suddenly being transported to what sounds like an Egyptian setting with the instrumental “Sun Orphaned”, which bleeds into the next track, “Ascension Pyre”, flawlessly.

Basically, Crimfall sounds late modern Dimmu Borgir mixed with Nightwish, but in the Folk and Viking field, pure and simple. While this is far from a bad thing, in fact the final product sounds really good and often very impressive. The main issue behind the album is the band’s lack of direction musically in the specific realm the music they are composing is trying to capture, as well as with the female vocals. Whether it’s due to too many production tricks and overlayering, a thick accent, whatever it may be, it’s frustrating to not be able to understand the English lyrics on this album at times, especially when she puts a lot of effort into presenting a beautiful, operatic vocal approach to the music, and when the harsh male shouting vocals are cleaner and easier to hear then the already clean vocals. As The Path Unfolds… shows great potential for this band, and it’s not one to be overlooked by any means, just do not go in expecting one of the most epic albums in the Folk, Symphonic, or even Power Metal based styles.

01. Neothera Awakening (Instrumental) – 2:55
02. The Crown Of Treason – 5:01
03. Wildfire Season – 5:24
04. Where Waning Winds Lead – 4:27
05. Sun Orphaned (Instrumental) – 2:04
06. Ascension Pyre – 4:06
07. Shadow Hearth – 4:55
08. Non Serviam – 5:01
09. Aubade – 3:41
10. Hundred Shores Distant – 5:58
11. Novembré (Instrumental) Р3:15

Overall Score: 5.5/10
Crimfall (band)
Crimfall (logo)Digital review copy of this release provided by Napalm Records.