Sons Of Crom — The Black Tower
A duo hailing from Sweden and Finland, Sons Of Crom are back with their second full-length album, The Black Tower. Billing themselves as "epic heavy metal," that description proves to be quite apt. Drawing on themes of Norse mythology, the project loosely narrates the saga of a protagonist in a medieval fantasy setting. Musically, Sons Of Crom have a very classic heavy metal sound which occasionally veers off into more extreme territory at times. The majority of The Black Tower is charging forward at a good pace, taking small melodic — and often acoustic — breaks between some passages. With several tracks breaking the 6-minute mark, nothing gets stale or laboured — the album's pacing is superb.
After the ambient opener, "Steps Of Doom," the record kicks into high-gear with "In Fire Reborn," which blasts out of the starting gate with a black metal section reminiscent of early Satyricon. Eventually the black metal fury gives way to more traditional, crunchy heavy metal riffing and the vocals switch to a low, clean sound. For almost the whole remainder of the album, there are no further black metal passages, only calling back to it in the second halves of "Summoning The Starborn" and "Viimeinen Laki." The rest of the material is quite varied, although far less extreme than one might expect given how The Black Tower starts off.
Mere flirtations with black metal aside, The Black Tower is packed full of ear-catching, groovy riffs and really does convey a grandiose — dare I say 'epic' — feeling throughout the material. "Fall Of Pandemonium" probably best illustrates this, evoking comparisons to Wintersun without the harsh vocals. Everything is well performed and the production is excellent. The vocals do sound a little flat on "Fall Of Pandemonium" but it doesn't really hurt the song, and it's kind of nice to hear reasonably 'raw' vocals in an age where digital edits and autotune are the status quo. Everything on The Black Tower sounds good and as though it could be reproduced live; it's not overly simplistic or basic, it just doesn't come across as music made with 100 different layers in a digital audio workstation.
I'm not really a power metal guy, and classic heavy metal is something I don't tend to listen to very often, but Sons Of Crom were a pleasant surprise to stumble across. After getting over the initial shock that I hadn't actually found a melodic black metal record, The Black Tower has really grown on me. For the most part, this is a no-frills, fairly traditional metal record — with minimal use of synths and strings — for the modern era. With so many disparate genres and labels given to projects, it's nice to get a record that can fairly accurately be summed up as a simply a metal album without excessive additional qualification. Sons Of Crom put out a great record, a sort of old school album with modern sensibilities and production.
In many ways, like a more melodic Wintersun, the Swedish / Finnish tag-team of Sons Of Crom serve up 8 quality tracks of epic heavy metal. Take a classic heavy metal band, add tasteful flourishes of black, power and folk metal, and season to taste. The Black Tower is a solid album from cover-to-cover, featuring long, well-crafted songs which relay the ongoing travails of a Conan-esque hero in in a Norse fantasy world, which, at first glance, isn't something that even I find very appealing when you spell it out like that. Sons Of Crom make it work, though; The Black Tower is a great metal album, and worth a look even if you don't like the genre because of its more abrasive styles and elements.
Release date: August 18th, 2017
Record label: Nordvis Produktion
Iro Sarkki — vocals, drums
Janne Posti — vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards
- Steps Of Doom
- In Fire Reborn
- Fall Of Pandemonium
- Black Wings Up High
- Summoning The Starborn
- Viimeinen Laki
- Rebirth Of The Sun
Published: July 29th, 2018.