Crystalmoors - _Antiqvum Exqvirite Matrem_
(Blood Fire Death, 2008)
by: Quentin Kalis (9 out of 10)
Crystalmoors' previous release, _Nabia Orebia_, was an okayish split with fellow Spaniards Omendark, and I considered them as yet another band filtering the spirit of ancient Europe through pagan hymns. A decent EP, the kind that one intends to listen to again at some point in the future but probably never will; _Antiqvum Exqvirite Matrem_ will not experience this fate, however.

Since _Nabia Orebia_ was recorded, Crystalmoors have changed their style from pagan metal blackened around the edges towards a more complex and engaging mix of death, black and Celtic folk, with a pinch of the melodic and the epic. The shift in style is subtle compared to the transformation in other departments, however. Song writing, arrangements, lyrics, melodies, production; all have improved drastically, to the point where they are barely recognisable as the same band. Part of the improvement can be attributed to their focus -- where folk instrumentation was inserted clumsily and rather arbitrarily into the metal on _Nabia Orebia_, it is used far more selectively and to great effect here. This can be seen on the first two "real" songs, which don't even so much as feature a flute. (Excluded from "real" song status are the three brief, beautiful and highly effective folkish instrumentals that are scattered on the album.)

Crystalmoors are without peers as far as folk metal debuts are concerned.


(article published 22/8/2008)

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