Named after a mythological Irish figure whose name translates as “dark crooked one”, this London based quartet turned heads with their folky melodies on debut “Heimweh” back in 2015. Crom Dubh have further evolved their sound on this sophomore full-length.

The seven tracks presented here are a lot more riff oriented than those on “Heimweh”. The melodies and atmospherics are still as strong as ever, but there’s definitely a rawer, more heathen edge present. The Celtic melodies that once underpinned and carried songs are now delivered in a much more subtle manner, so that when their presence is pushed to the forefront then they’re much more effective. This is notable on the fantastic “Last Dust” and particularly towards the end of album closer “Endless Night”.

Other key moments on the album are almost sing-a-long in nature, the chorus of “Ram In A Thicket” in particular almost emulating a football chant. “Burning” starts off a bit more pedestrian, though the bass gets to shine through a little more. A deftly picked melody sits below a strummed distorted chord progression, the half-time feel double kick drums and occasional time changes giving this an almost Primordial-esque quality.

“Endless Night” is another plodding slow-burner. The bassline briefly bears a passing resemblance to the THAT riff from “I Am The Black Wizards”, before the song slows down, marching towards a distortion-drenched pentatonic folk melody that brings to mind shades of “Auld Lang Syne”.

Littering their compositions with literary references and occupying the same epic folky black metal space as Moonsorrow and Primordial, Crom Dubh are not quite there yet in terms of quality and sharpness of performance. Despite these rough-hewn edges though, the strength of their song writing is spot on and results in a remarkably sturdy and enjoyable album.

(7.5/10 Doogz)