Released: 2008, Pure Steel Records
Reviewer: Luxi Lahtinen
The ex-Dark Fortress fellow, Walter ´Crom´ Grosse, leaves his main band at the turn of the new millennium in order to fully concentrate on his own solo project band, Crom. With some well received promos, a demo and EP later, in February 2007, Walter put the finishing touches to his first ever Crom album, titled VENGEANCE.
As the press kit of German Pure Steel Records states boldly, Walter has never hidden his admiration and respect toward the grandmaster of the viking metal genre, Quorthon (R.I.P.), from the mighty Swedish horde Bathory. And like a loyal and devoted disciple, Walter allowed himself to be influenced by Bathory´s epic melodies, pompous arrangements, all-capturing anthems of true viking metal - making quite a transition with all these Bathory´s instant influences - hacked deep down in his favorable brain, into VENGEANCE.
Listening to VENGEANCE, really makes you smile silently because it´s at least very admirable from Walter himself to confess his great love of Quorthon´s viking era direction. In fact, he reaches this certain level of imitation so closely to some latest Bathory albums (especially the NORDLAND I & II albums, but also reaching some magical moments of the BLOOD ON ICE/TWILIGHT era Bathory as well) that his ´credits´ to be one of the biggest and most ambitious Bathory worshippers on the whole globe, come very clear and visible on VENGEANCE. So much as he owes to Bathory on this album, I think Walter is still somehow - in a strange way, obliged to continue Quorthon´s work with Crom. He comes the closest to the viking era Bathory on VENGEANCE anyway - and his assets as a composer of this very epic and majestic sounding viking metal stuff, are truly unquestionable. Even right from the first catchy track "Wings of Fire" to the album´s closer tune, "Fire", it´s Bathory´s name that pops up in one´s mind more than anything else really. I cannot avoid getting Bathory´s name tagged everywhere when spinning Crom´s debut through, over and over and over again. Also, I think Walter is an even better singer than Quorthon ever was, which I don´t mean as an insult toward Quorthon. Walter just has more different nuances in his voice, and overall seems to be capable of singing in note a bit better than Quorthon (but I personally still prefer Quorthon´s voice due to its uniqueness - nothing against Walter´s very good voice though). Nevertheless, with lots of epic feel, magnificent choirs, beautiful harmonies, strong melody lines and such that all together make the basis for a worthy viking metal record, can be easily found from VENGEANCE, too.
Granted, Crom doesn´t throw any new cards on the viking metal table, but since Walter´s own tribute to Quorthon and Bathory is so strongly present and wholeheartedly in Crom´s stuff, I feel a somewhat urgent need to take my viking helmet off to his attempt to continue his Bathory-ish saga through Crom. Hail the mighty hordes indeed...!