Album Title: 
Release Date: 
Friday, January 6, 2023
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Apparently, Cromworx is a solo-outfit by Grom, part of the original line-up of Slovakian Gothic Metal act Orkrist. They were active – and quite ‘popular’ – at the very beginning of this millennium, and after a pretty long ‘break’ they sort of returned a couple of years ago.

So, Peter Gall aka Grom also had / has his own outfit, called Cromworx. Here, Peter’s moniker is Crom instead of Grom, by the way. Throughout two decades, Crom composed several hands of stuff that modestly differs from Orkrist’s main material (i.e. Metal), yet for some comprehensible reason there are undeniably specific connections in between Cromworx’ material and several keyboard passages and approaches in Orkrist; quite some material was meant as ‘attempt’ for additional passages on some of Orkrist’s albums (as intro, intermezzo or whatever). Anyway, in 2022 this guy finished several hands full of his (mainly older) material in the studio. For the release of this material, he signed to Northern Silence Productions, which resulted in a physical release on both compact-disc and tape (and LP too, afterwards). The first one, that CD, is a six-panel digipack with nice black-and-white artwork, and with the lyrics included. The cassette version is limited (evidently) (and almost sold-out), coming in two different editions: white and gold, also including the lyrics. In the meantime, a vinyl-format might have been printed too, if I am not mistaken.

The twenty-one ‘attempts’ (dixit Crom) on Cromworx bring a very varied approach of Dungeon Synth oriented material, yet totally covered in an old-schooled tradition of medieval-inspired elegance. Despite the primal recording material (with exception of just a few rearrangements and a handful of additional vocals, the better part was registered on some floppy-disc without any ‘huge’ studio production behind the recording process), the sound-result is very decent, well-balanced and clear.

Cromworx performs a ‘pervious’ form of Dungeon Synth material, floating in a medieval-oriented attitude, breathing a certain Nineties atmosphere. It’s not (at all) of the so-called Chiptune-like current (luckily), yet more than once in a while, a certain ‘happiness’ appears within the performance. Yet quite some other parts rather dwell in spheres of melancholia, then again heroism and / or epicism. It’s enormously varying for sure, yet the overall approach remains cohesive and one-directional in nature.

Since it would be unthinkable to dissect all twenty-one compositions, I will not. Yet it would be nothing but honest to define the global character of this fine release. And as said, the performance is diverse, with epic and energetic, then again rather cheerful material. When talking about the latter, I sometimes have to think about The Soil Bleeds Black. The short Intermezzo-named songs, for example, are blithe and giddy (yet still, all of them are subtly differing from each-other). But a track like The Darfmen Song is a purest expression of medieval grandeur: harpsichord-like melodies, anthemic choir-chants, hints of flute and a rich interplay of synths.

Others have a rather introvert, almost nostalgic attitude, crawling back into a darkened, misty and shadowy place, far away from joy and light. Phantasmarch is a good example of this stylistic approach, with a somewhat Summoning’ish atmosphere, yet above all a monumental orchestration of drums and synths. Or experience the introvert elegance in Das Opfer Deiner Finsternis, for instance, with these nostalgic piano tunes, dreamy synths and distant beats. Epilogue too is an example of this dark-edged and doom-minded fairness…

Hymns like Horns Are Calling, then again, focus on a combative, militant vision; this specific one having an abundant yet very diversified synth-based core, with a fine amount of percussion-like elements, and both illuminating and endarkening episodes. The mighty epic The Dragon’s Lair too carries that bountiful yet beautiful harmonious mood (the most adventurous piece, by the way, going for both the vocal and instrumental performance, as well as the omnifarious structures and arrangements).

Several other pieces have that dynamic, soul-driven energy. The album’s opener Prologue, for example, is such multi-layered epos, with many synth-lines appearing, lifting up, overwhelming, and fading away. It’s a mostly victorious symphony, with martial drums and combative percussions, and with doomed synth-scores and bombastic melodies. Also the Unnamed Themes tracks have that persuasive and convinced implementation of manifold levels of keyboards with a huge scala of percussion / drum based support.

Then again, there are the somewhat Folk-oriented songs. What about The Curse Of Averon, with both male (deep-tuned), female (bright) and choirlike voices, acoustics, enlightened keys (once in a while with a certain clavichord-alike sound), pushing drum programming, and flute-like injections.

Besides the especially keyboard-performed content, Cromworx’ material also comes with a diverse drum-programmations, acoustic strings, samples, and some vocal additions, as mentioned. The percussions are quite manifold: cymbals, drums, snare drums, bells, tympany, chimes and everything that sounds alike. It isn’t live-played, I think, yet the programmed approach surely sounds organic within the whole aural concept. Also different harpsichord-sounding and flute-like additions add that sense of open-mindedness unto the Music of Cromworx. And believe me: it worx well.

Recommended if you can appreciate everything in between Grabesmond, Fief, Evol (their Folk / DS-parts, evidently), Caoranach, Raventhrone (without the Metal-elements, of course), Cernunnos Woods, Aranea Telam, Pazuzu, you know…