Sons of Crom’s debut album Riddle of Steel was extremely impressive and enjoyable, making its way into my end of year best of list for 2014. Rich and diverse, it really was a stunner that has easily stood the test of time thus far.
We now have a further 44 minutes of material off the band, and it’s a real pleasure to once again hear their diverse brand of varied epic heavy metal.
A great thing about this band is their willingness to break outside of simple genre restraints. For example, there are a plethora of different styles incorporated into this album, with folk, doom, power, and black metal being the obvious ones. These enhance and add to the band’s overall epic metal offering, resulting in an even richer and more varied album than we’d get otherwise. Of course, you can’t readily separate these parts, as Sons of Crom’s music works holistically and without fractured delivery resulting from poor compositions.
As with their first release, this is epic, stirring stuff. From the orchestral elements, to the vibrant guitar leads, to the hugely epic vocals, to the scathing second-wave black metal, to the over-the-top power metal parts, to the folk influences, to the…well, you name it in some ways. As with the first album, The Black Tower may actually only last for less than 45 minutes, but it seems a lot longer – I mean this in a very good way, as there’s so much here to get your teeth into, how could it not last well over an hour? What is this witchery?!
One of the things I loved about Riddle of Steel was how the clean vocal melodies and harmonies just seemed to bleed out from the music in rich, gorgeous flows. These are still present and correct, surfacing alongside the more power metal singing and harsh screams. Vocally, everything here is just as impressive as the equally diverse music.
Riddle of Steel was so very good that I have been wondering if any follow up could possibly do it justice. Well, now I know. Although it’s hard to properly compare as I’ve had three years to digest and absorb Riddle of Steel, my initial impressions are definitely leading me to think that The Black Tower is more than a worthy successor to its predecessor. I suspect, in fact, that it’s actually superior. Time will undoubtedly tell, but for the moment The Black Tower has had quite the same effect on me as The Riddle of Steel did.
Hugely impressive and enjoyable – get this as soon as you can.