Vera : Some albums are true pieces of art and this is, more precisely, tenable for 'The Writ Of Sword', the sophomore album of Crimfall. This new project of the Finn Jakke Viitala already caught my attention in positive sense when they released the debut 'As The Path Unfolds' in 2009, but the successor shows even more maturity. Jakke did not go for a simple, direct approach: the vigorous blend of black metal, folk and wealthy orchestration, regaled with duo vocals demands ultimate skills to create a fetching result, not only because it is a huge work to get all those ideas recorded in the studio. Yet the band succeeded in doing this, all by themselves (except the mastering).
At times of the debut Crimfall happened to be a project of three core members - Jakke himself and vocalists Mikko Häkkinen (a delicious growl) and Helena Haaparanta (angelic yet powerful female vocals). After the debut they went looking for musicians to form a real band. Drummer Janne Jukarainen (also in Hanging Garden) stayed and as bassist they recruited Miska Sipiläinen. After further investigation it seems that many friends from the scene - especially from Finntroll, Moonsorrow and Turisas - came along in the studio for a guest appearance. That's fine, since the music of Crimfall - although surely having a signature sound - has any reminiscence with those three bands.
'As The Path Unfolds' had fire and summer's end as main themes, but on 'The Writ Of Sword' it gets grim and cold. Main themes on 'The Writ Of Sword' are winter and war. Subjects that send shivers down your spine. With the crackling intro 'Dicembre' we enter a world without mercy. Atmospheric synths are relished with marvellous violins. This is Ollie Vänskä of Turisas and he colours many songs with his melancholic melodies. But then the orchestral metal fully bursts out in 'Storm Before The Calm'. Heavy bass-driven metal it is and very cinematic. The interaction between very strong and catchy female vocal lines and the raucous reply of Mikko is amazing, but there is a lot to discover. A juicy accordion melody (Henri Sorvali), inciting hey hey chants, violin and mouth harp intermezzo, acoustic guitars, Moonsorrow-alike heathen choirs… the list of intriguing nuances is long and when you get conversant with the music it all fits like a glove.
The songs flow unnoticeable into each other. So we are in the middle of 'Frost Upon Their Graves' in which Slavonic lai lai lai chants leap to the eye. After the esoteric female chants in the short 'Cahceravga', they swallow the bait in 'Shackles Of The Moirai'. This is epic black metal with a sensual growl of mister Häkkinen. Later on a filmic intermezzo with violin and the cadence of slavery choirs are the transition to magnificent clear sounds (bouzouki?). They keep on resounding when the seven minutes long title track starts. Dark spoken fragment (Wilska - ex-Finntroll) is followed by fetching female vocals. An inciting part passes into raucous vocals and do I hear a banjo there? You might fear that it is all too hectic, but they come along with it by inserting many quiet intermezzos. The instrumental (except for wordless choirs) 'Geadgai' is such a moment of rest. It is a paradigm of beauty with sensitive, glissando guitar solos full of emotion. Next is 'Silver And Bones': eight minutes art in which accordion and calm female vocals flow into compelling black metal. There is also a calm part with classical violin play, while wild riffs flirt with folk melodies. Grunts and serene female chants interact and once again they impress with an emotive guitar solo. The end is a bit experimental. When we finally arrive at the heaving pounding 'Son Of North', shivers still run down my spine, but not due to coldness, but caused by intense emotions in this beautiful musical journey. A top notch product with a final touch from the master of the Fascination Street Studio: Jens Bogren.