As The Path Unfolds...
posted on 4/2009 By:
Don’t look at this artwork and think this album will be a power metal embarrassment, from an embarrassing band, who might have an embarrassing obsession and embarrassingly derived name from Hammerfall – and Hammerfall’s album Crimson Thunder. Don’t do it, because being wrong is embarrassing.
Hailing from the nice-metal headquarters of the world, Finland, Crimfall began life as the demo brain-child of musical maestro Jakke Viitala. The strength and pagan potential of the material lead to the summoning of vocalists Mikko Häkkinen and Helena Haaparanta to finish the line-up and Finnish the sound up. Producing their own brand of epic folk metal, akin in spirit to that of Turisas, Finntroll and Moonsorrow, As the Path Unfolds… was recorded with a handful of session musicians to fill the gaps, including Henri Sorvali, of such bands as, um… Finntroll and Moonsorrow. Cute.
However, that is still pretty misleading, because this astonishing debut album is a bit more diverse than that. It would be very complimentary of me to liken some of the better parts of the album to Ayreon’s The Human Equation, with serenading melodic sections bestrewn with violins, cellos, accordions and instruments that go BOING. Haaparanta’s vocals would suit an Ayreon album down to the ground, and the warmth and tone of her voice is made only more beautiful when contrasted with the Gollum-like black metal screams of Häkkinen, battling against her over galloping drums and thick, lucid guitar lines, evocative of later Sacriversum.
Suggesting that Crimfall are in the business of producing soundtrack music is a third deception. Whilst there are the occasional breathing spots filled with the sounds of a blacksmith, or maybe a horse or something (trotting about in new shoes now that I think about it), these moments and the hypnotic desert sounds of “Sun Orphaned” are tastefully short and serve only to give the story movement and visuals. There is clearly an orchestral soundtrack influence to be found on As the Path Unfolds… though, reflected in the heroic horn blowing and harps of “The Crown of Treason” and the scene-setting string orchestration of “Neothera Awakening”, never with the feeling of trying to pad out time.
The folk element within the music is captivating and also crucial to conjuring images of seas, mountains and forests. It’s hard to believe this album wasn’t recorded by the trickling stream that marks the forest boundaries of a hillside village - the sounds engraved onto stone by an echoing valley and digitally mastered by the cave Gods. It’s not so much the lust for battle Crimfall embeds inside you, more the yearn for a purposeful excursion. A metal excursion.
The more impressive tracks include “Shadow Hearth,” a momentous musical piece, confirming Haaparanta’s vocals as the queen of the kingdom, and a brave exploration of everything the band has to offer called “Wildfire Season,” a track which begs to know what the crowd at a Crimfall show would actually do.
Do they dance merrily arm-in-arm or headbang like barnyard chickens? Do they air guitar or air conduct? Do they cry tears of glory and sadness or holler deafening cries of madness and tear shit up? Either way, it’s got to be a lot of fun and I want in.
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