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Cryptic Age - "Homeland" (CD/EP)

Cryptic Age - "Homeland" CD/EP cover image

"Homeland" track listing:

1. Homeland (8:07)
2. On The Bare Cold Ground (6:23)
3. Bring Down The Sky (3:39)
4. No Folking Way (4:12)
5. Paragons Of War (4:31)

Reviewed by on July 8, 2011

"Blending together folk music with power metal, the 'Homeland' EP is a unique take on metal standing out in a musical landscape cluttered with bands that adhere to overly-regimented genre breakdowns."

Going for a much different sound than what may be expected, Cryptic Age is a female fronted act that is neither a gothic metal band nor a group that uses any harsh vocals. Dropping the standard stylistic choices of groups that utilize female vocals, this U.K. quartet offers a refreshing break from the norm. Blending together folk music with power metal, the “Homeland” EP is a unique take on metal standing out in a musical landscape cluttered with bands that adhere to overly-regimented genre breakdowns.

Although not sounding precisely the same, there is a very noticeable influence in both the folk music and vocal delivery departments coming from musicians like Loreena Mckennit. The folk elements are frequently of the Celtic variety, combining the operatic with the melancholy. “Bring Down the Sky” has the most mystical and pagan feel to be found on the EP, with the least metal leaning instrumentation. “On The Bare Cold Ground,” on the other hand, is much heavier than the rest of the tracks and includes elements of thrash and even a slight melodic death metal touch, although without the growls. The completely instrumental track “No Folking Way” (see what they did there?) strikes a strong balance between the traditional folk sounds and the heavy guitar work.

Although Cryptic Age shares similarities with folk metal bands like Korpiklaani or Finntroll, there are large differences beyond just the sole use of clean singing. Cryptic Age switches off the leading sound between tracks, moving between folk first or power metal first, and most of the tracks utilize crazy electronic style keyboard sounds.

In ways it seems like the band may still be discovering exactly what its core sound should be and how it should balance each different element, but the overall package is well-executed and compelling, even if the sound quality is slightly murky. For a taste of something different, “Homeland” makes a great trek into folksy metal and offers a glimpse of a unique pairing of ideas that is something of a rarity in heavy music.

Highs: Celtic folk style female vocals add a unique dimension to the power metal sound.

Lows: The sound quality could use a boost, and in places it seems like the band hasn't ironed out the mix of styles yet.

Bottom line: If Loreena Mckennit joined a power metal band, it would probably sound something like this.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)