Crom – “When Northmen Die” (Pure Steel / Legend Records)
Formed by ex Dark Fortress guitarist Walter ‘Crom’ Grosse, this is his namesake solo band with its inspiration unmistakably taken from Conan and musically Bathory and early Manowar. As such, if its epic warrior metal that you crave, then look no further as this is what Crom is all about. Yet while some songs may be hard and involve stirring Nordic choirs, in the main Crom is about ballads and usually sorrowful ones about fallen heroes, mourned brothers and missed friends, often using gentle acoustics and deep folk melodies with strong overall emphasis on evoking a powerful atmosphere steeped in heart breaking warrior passion. With Grosse covering manly soulful vocals touched by melancholia as well as all guitars, he is joined once again by Dark Fortress drummer Seraph and former keyboardist Paymon on additional backing vocals. “When Northmen Die” is Grosse’s 3rd full length release and while he certainly takes his time to issue his albums, they’re well worth the wait given the excellent compositions, all 13 of which certainly hit the mark in every sense from being emotively memorable to using intelligent arrangements, all of which collude to produce that aforementioned powerful atmosphere on songs like the thundering ‘Behold The Lights’ with its double bass drumming and even heavier warrior choirs, the flowing guitar passion on ‘Shields Of Gold’ and ‘One Step To The Lake Below’, an epic tale building through heavy, dirty guitars superbly contrasted by soulful vocals and dark drawls, along with wailing guitar melodies and even more haunting choirs – wow! All I can say is if you’ve not heard Crom before, then I strongly urge you to do so, for you may be in for a surprise…and a truly magical one at that.