SonsOfCromWhen the opening notes of second song ‘Master Of Shadows’ hits, the immediate question that gallops through your brain (probably on the road to Asa Bay) is “does the world need another Bathory covers band doing all original material?” I mean yes of course it does, but with the huge shadow of Twilight Of The Gods to step out from under it is a big ask. Especially as TOTG are a gigging super group and at present Sons Of Crom are a two man studio band. Cousins from Sweden and Finland, Janne Posti (vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards) and Iiro Sarkki (vocals, drums) though certainly don’t enter the arena with faint heart. Here for openers they give us a concept album, the journey of a warrior, and as with any band who wear their influences proudly on their sleeves they also bring us the biggest question they really have to answer: “Would you listen to them over Bathory themselves?”

Well, like Twilight Of The Gods, they have thankfully taken the template into slightly different areas, and different areas from TOTG too; eschewing their rabble rousing glorious heavy metal bombast for the more introverted waters of folk and purer Viking metal with a pinch of the black to taste. Really tightly played and with a good production, they have an enticing stall.

The first two songs ‘Myrkrafar’ and ‘Master Of Shadow’ really are pure Hammerheart Bathory with even the vocals spot on for Quorthon’s style, a great romp through that era and very good but, if it matters, slightly lacking in their own identity for me. Melodic and catchy and that excellent rise and fall, sharp riff sound though, so no real foul. ‘Golden Gates’ is the first dip into the acoustic and gentle multi layered vocals are beautifully done and making their overall sound smoother than the good but not perfect individual tones. In short; just what you should do. A nice thoughtful breather with a pleasant arrangement too. We’ll done. ‘Call Of The Black Mountain’ brings the riffs back, a bit more of Immortal added here in both style and the more black metal vocals and it is a fine windswept ride. ‘Cimmerian Dance’ is a swirling bit of music, probably the closest to their own identity too with the interspersed folk lilt to the melody and the bright, frost edge making it memorable.

Epic twelve minute song ‘Victory’ starts with acoustic guitar and resonant, pretty good clean vocals once more smoothed out nicely with harmonies. It takes care getting going, laying a rich vocal atmosphere as the slow riff winds up. It is excellent Viking period Bathory, a heartfelt depth to the grandiose melody and the buzzing guitar edge intact. However it’s sedate pace stretches it out beyond its natural length for me, especially coupled with the quiet coda of the final title track.

So there you have it: On the whole finely crafted music, performed with a real and much appreciated passion and with a good knack for song writing on the shorter offerings. The only drawback at all here is this; The legacy is it made me go back and pull out that original Viking trilogy after the review, which I have to reflect in the mark below. They will be back I’m sure though and the more their own identity comes through, the finer their work will become. Good debut without a doubt and ones to watch.

(7/10 Gizmo)