Released: 2009, Napalm Records
Another release that serves to remind me that this folk metal craze has not run its course yet, Crimfall’s AS THE PATH UNFOLDS… is the Finnish band’s debut album, and it’s a bit of a mixed bag as far as I’m concerned.
Crimfall is pretty unique in the sense that it has a female singer who actually contributes her fair share of vocals. Helena Haaparanta is an integral part of Crimfall’s sound (more on that later), and her sweet yet forceful voice balances out Mikko Haakinen’s harsh black vocals very nicely. Picture Nightwish’s Annette duelling against Finntroll’s Katla Jamsen (on MIDNATTENS WIDUNDER) if you can, it’s actually a fairly successful combination.
There are some very good elements on AS THE PATH UNFOLDS…, the vocals being one of those elements. The “extra” folk instruments like acoustic guitar, fiddle, accordion and that weird bouncy Finnish instrument are integrated pretty well into Crimfall’s rather elaborate sound that relies a lot on a big symphonic backdrop, sounding at times rather like Dimmu Borgir’s more self-indulgent periods or Nightwish’s bombastic approach. And I can’t help noticing a marked similarity to Turisas’ similar ‘epic’ sound, even down to the chorus on ‘The Crown of Treason’, which sounds remarkably similar to the chorus on ‘One More’ (BATTLE METAL), which in turn actually sounds a little like ‘To Holmgard and Beyond’ (THE VARANGIAN WAY).
That brings me to Crimfall’s flaws. Like I said, they have some really good moments, but most other times, you’re thinking ‘I’ve heard this before from Turisas, Korpiklaani, Finntroll, Ensiferum, Alestorm, Tÿr and a million other folk bands’. They’re not bad by any means, just…trite and overdone. The riffs are boring and the symphonies and orchestral filler can’t cover up this hole. I hope they stick with the twin vocal approach since the two voices really complement each other. AS THE PATH UNFOLDS… is a good debut effort but doesn’t quite have the staying power or the originality to stand out in the saturated folk metal market.