When I first heard this album around the time it was released back in March, I actually did not like it that much. I thought it was too cheesy and that the blend of styles was one big mess. So, I put it away for a couple of months, but decided to give it another couple of spins recently, and – wow – this time it just clicked with me.
Stylistically, Crimfall's The Writ of Sword falls somewhere between folk metal and symphonic metal. The overall sound is very big and epic, and the heavy metal instrumentation of guitars, bass, and drums is accompanied by epic symphonic orchestration and epic synth effects which evokes the same grand feel of the heroic literature of Northern Europe, or in epic Hollywood films for that matter. However, there is also folk instrumentation and folk melodies played by both the guitars and the folk instruments, and sometimes also sung; just check the some of the vocal melodies in 'Frost Upon their Grave' and 'Son of the North', which sound absolutely amazing.
The metal aspect of the music combines power metal, melodic death metal and more extreme types of metal (such as black metal), so you can expect both groovy riffs, galloping guitars and the occasional blastbeat, but there are also some quite progressive moments, and prog fans might enjoy some of the passages in the title track of the album og the hyper epic 'Silver and Bones'.. In terms of vocals, Crimfall make use of the combination of harsh extreme metal vocals and female vocals. This combination has been beaten to death, I think, and I wonder what the album would have sounded like with only female vocals. I mean, Helena Haaparanta does appear to have a versatile voice, so that might work. On the other hand, the harsh male vocals do constitute an anchor in the extreme metal territory, and some of the extreme metal identity might be lost without them.
This is a big and epic sounding album which neatly combines extreme metal with folk and symphonic music. There are some moments of ultra cheesiness, I think, and the view to symphonic and folksy metal might not appeal to everyone at first, and it might take some listens to be able to really appreciate it for all its details and grandeur. I do think that The Writ of Sword will click immediately with fans of folk metal and symphonic metal, because it has all the qualities of both genres.
2. Storm Before The Calm
3. Frost upon Their Graves
5. Shackles Of The Moirai
6. The Writ Of Sword
8. Silver and Bones
9. Son Of North