Crom – The Era of Darkness (2023) – Review

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Crome - The Era of Darkness - Album Cover

2022 brought us a pretty outstanding crop of snazzy Heavy Metal records. And two of them, the ones from Saxon and Splintered Throne, landed square on one of our funkiest annual top 10 lists so far. What’s more, the wider selection of that decidedly powerful selection contained some of the best Power Metal cuts we had the pleasure to review on this ‘zine.

And this sets the bar at lofty heights for those who wish to grab some of the stardom that this worn-out genre still has to offer in 2023. So, will Crom deliver a lesson in mind-blowing and glitzy Heavy Metal or is it going to be stale old tropes all over again? Unleash those trve metal screams!

The Era of Darkness conveys that impression of a Heavy Metal record that tries to offer a little something for everyone hitting on the green cover. And that’s not a bad thing per se. After all, a band needs to grow its varied fanbase. In other words, you won’t get high-octane heavies shoved down your eardrums that will slam yer head back in between your shoulders so you can’t get unstuck anymore. No early over-the-top Dickinson hollers here, no rebellious railings against the Gods o’ Vile Metal. Instead, you get reasonably bite-sized tracks, all neatly arranged, and delivered by the vocalist in measured tones.

And – again – there’s nothing really wrong with that. A polished production, well-arranged songs that smoothly flow along on well-written lyrics. Sturdy, but none-too-meaty riffs, at times snazzy solos, and a neatly manicured vocal delivery. Heavy Metal with some subtle Power and Viking Metal injections, complete with sometimes pretty cool shredding (on Riding into the Sun, for instance). A metal dish that – at times – sounds more Týr than it would rival Iron Maiden. And there are no really bad songs on The Era of Darkness, none. Fillers totally absent, yet another great point in a sea of positives. The folks over at Crom truly are gifted songwriters.

And yet. The metal addicts @ RMR usually like to greedily feed off that often exuberant energy HM records throw at you. It’s this cerebral kick from well-crafted tracks that come with high-calorie metal power levels to dream of. But here, the crew started to look for excitement elsewhere after a while, and that’s a pity. Moreover, the band dutifully kicks the power buttons to full speed ahead once the entry point, Into the Glory Land, roars off. Just to turn down the volume again and let the rest flow downhill in a strangely even stream of nicely curated metal.

And then, the similarities roll in. The mastermind behind CromWalter Grosse – garnished The Era of Darkness‘ tracklist with well-refined nuggets of eerie déjà-vu. Fancy a few examples? Together We Ride serves itself freely from the mighty Toolbox ov Maidenisms. In Your Eyes seems stuck in some hybrid mode, somewhere in between Foreigner and Scorpions. Or – again – The Forsaken gets you a nod to SYG:AR:TYR all of a sudden. But it’s all neatly arranged, no copycat here.1)

So, ultimately, Crom got us an enjoyable mix of Heavy and Power Metal that somewhat smoothly flows along the tracklist fed by Grosse‘s pleasant crooning and measured metal style. He might not be the greatest Heavy Metal vocalist of all time but there’s never a note out of place. In addition, you’ll find enough swords, ships, and other fantasy items to please yer more cheese-laden urges.

And that places The Era of Darkness slightly North of the solid middle ground. Not wildly exciting, but interesting enough to hold our attention for a few more listens further down the road. Thinking about it, this might indeed be a record for fans with a taste for metal of the light. After all, this is a piece that won’t abuse you and snarl at you every friggin’ second of its limited airtime. And this is sometimes a good thing for this here crew, too.

Record Rating: 6/10 | LabelFrom The Vaults | Web: Facebook (band)
Release Date: 13 January 2023


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