Crimfall, the label hopping Finns, seem to be doing the rounds of all the key metal homes - from Napalm to Spinefarm to Metal Blade. Next stop, Nuclear Blast? For now, here we have their third album and first for the aforementioned Metal Blade. Named 'Amain', this one's a bit of an epic sounding beast.
Shifting discussion from record labels to genre labels, the inanity of the latter never ceases to amaze me. Press blurb for 'Amain' talks about "cinemascopic metal". The band's own Facebook page would have you believe they're purveyors of "Epic Cinematic Metal" (or "Epic Score Metal" if reading the tagline for their website). And the internet's main metal resource, Encyclopaedia Metallum, posits their style as being "Symphonic Power/Viking/Folk Metal". Whether all of those are actual musical genres, I'll leave that for you to decide. Either way, and despite the redundancy of said labels due to the variance within (ie. is there a particular "Viking Metal" sound that binds together all bands proclaiming to be such?), it's indicative of the richly layered sonic tapestry Crimfall have crafted for the songs on 'Amain'. There's much variance here. Plenty of different moods. And all conveyed through their musically and compositionally stylistic shifts.
As per the band's previous work, this is indubitably narrative-based music... there are tales to be told here... and the general feeling of the music (even when the death growls are kind of indecipherable) is that a story is unfolding. The changing moods of the instrumentations propel the narratives forth as much as the sung lyrics, with all the drama, suspense and action of a Ridley Scott movie. This feels like an epic journey. Guitarist/composer Jakke Viitala is one hell of a talented guy.
The appeal of 'Amain' is potentially fairly wide across the metal community. There are so many epic melodies embedded within an orchestrated symphonic metal soundscape that those who've long lamented the lack of such in Nightwish's music on their most recent albums will find much to get excited about here. Certain passages of music are undeniably a little Rhapsody-esque in how some of the metal and symphonic elements have been combined, so the sympho-power crew will equally adore 'Amain'. For those of you whose metal tastes are inclined more towards the extreme, 'Amain' has a number of beefed-up, heavy moments, such as where some passages of music have tremolo-picked guitars combined with orchestral instrumentations and blast-beats ā la black metal interjections. There are some mellower, folky elements. And even some more exotic flavours with the likes of 'Mother of Unbelievers', which has overt Eastern flavours... there's a touch of Orphaned Land about this one...at least in terms of some of the melodies... the core of the song is generally way more crushingly heavy than Orphaned Land. Said track also has a soulful bias in places, where Helena Haaparanta's voice truly soars.
And the vocals are first-rate throughout. Everyone already familiar with Crimfall will be aware it's the tried-and-tested, oft-used singing duality of growled male vocals (from Mikko Häkkinen) alongside a clean female voice. However, within the context of their music, it feels purposeful and relevant for the narratives and incredibly well executed.
With a fantastic production and mix, combined with the magnificent compositions and arrangements, and some great performances, it seems Crimfall have a winner on their hands with 'Amain'. Let's hope the word gets out there with their third album, as this most underrated of acts deserves far more widespread recognition.
Review by Mark Holmes
25th August 2017
2) The Last of Stands
3) Ten Winters Apart, Pt 1
4) Ten Winters Apart, Pt 2
5) Ten Winters Apart, Pt 3
6) Ten Winters Apart, Pt 4
7) Mother of Unbelievers
8) It's a Long Road
9) Wayward Verities
10) Until Falls the Rain
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"The changing moods of the instrumentations propel the narratives forth as much as the sung lyrics, with all the drama, suspense and action of a Ridley Scott movie. This feels like an epic journey."