June 15, 2013 by Beldrac
XIII Crows – Eternal Roots
Genre: Pagan/Viking Metal
Today I turn my rudder towards Spain and set sail on XIII Crows’ debut album “Eternal Roots.” Information about the band is scarce, especially if you don’t speak Spanish, but I’ve learned this is a duo from Madrid formerly of band Autumnal.
Their short bio implies this is the culmination of a number of years’ song writing and work, which might be why the album seems to lack focus and direction. It plays out like a well-produced 1h13m demo with all their material thrown together with little or no thought to it being an album. This is the main gripe I have with the album, but not the only one. I’m also not fond of the long instrumental passages and some tracks become tedious to listen to, leaving me with the feeling that the track is unfinished, that they’ve written the music but haven’t yet written the lyrics to go with it.
At times the music can be likened to Primordial in that predominantly they play a Celtic-brand of Pagan Metal, as opposed to the Nordic/Germanic brand which dominates the genre. Their ship gets blown off course from time to time though and then, comparisons can be drawn to the mighty Vikings of the North – “Prophecy” being a prime example reeking of Amon Amarth. “Sacrifice of the Moon” marches in a Funeral procession with its slow pace and heavy riffs venturing into Ahab territory, once again though it feels too ponderous. “Wolves” start with a nice Pagan-Black riff but starts chasing its own tail and circles around and repeats itself without ever really going anywhere – again no vocals and no direction. This is the type of thing that makes me feel the album is unfinished, it’s like they didn’t add the vocal track to the final production. “For Them” paints Gothic scenes in my mind not unlike the ones Paradise Lost used to do in the days of “Icon” and “Draconian Times,” but is at least three minutes too long…
There are some really good tracks on here, the aforementioned “Prophecy” is great and “Song of an Old Tired King” has a fast-paced Celtic-Pagan melody, brought down by – you guessed it – no vocals. Some people won’t be too bothered with that but I think it could’ve been so much better. “The Wind Hunter,” which reminds me of Novembers Doom, is also one of the really good ones along with “Gunnefane” and “Call of Urd,” which reminded me of older Primordial (“Spirit the Earth Aflame.”)
Musically there’s some potential here, there are a few well-written songs and I would be very interested in hearing the final product if the band ever decided to revisit this material; cut and trim the unnecessarily long passages and even rework some of the songs by adding vocals and making the whole much more cohesive. I’ve had too many reminds me of moments on this album and this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but the album is too patchy with bits of timber lashed on from these foreign ports. I hope though that their next effort will have more definition and identity and if that’s the case, it could be a really good album.
My original review at TMO.