Reviewed by Mike Paradine
Artist: CRIMSON STORM
Album: 5 Song EP
Release year: 2009
Label: Self-produced, indie
2) Out of time
3) Darkest of rain
4) Sleep in the Dark
A review request came in the other day from the front office concerning a fellow American band by the name of CRIMSON STORM. This band out of Phoenix Arizona consists of 4 capable musicians who are influenced from Judas Priest, Stryper to Pink Floyd and Daughty (WTF?). A very interesting combination of bands to say the least. The band is unsigned but their songs are listed at www.reverbnation.com/crimsonstorm.
The intro to the first song, “Brigade” is one of the most bizarre intros that I have ever come across. It starts off with something that sounds like a tea kettle that has reached its boiling point and is whistling at the top of its lungs. Soon after, we have an explosion with some glass and wood breaking. This now says to me that someone left the gas jets on the stove and the flames from the tea kettle ignited the gas and blew the cabin apart. But it doesn’t end there. Next we have what sounds like someone shaking a bag of frozen french fries. Given that the name of the song is “Brigade”, I automatically assumed that these effects were to represent a missile launch and strike along with soldiers marching. A much better and distinctive sound effects are need here. Next we hear the footsteps of the soldier’s march, in which drummer Chris Herman, keeps in time with his drum beats. A very forceful rhythm guitar begins the music that has the traditional metal sound going for it. Vocalist, Paul Ames has a good high range sound with an added grit to it that shows he can do much more with his voice than he shows here. His melodies are repetitive and boring. Each verse is sung the exact same was as the one before it. It needs to have some hills and valleys or some dramatic expression which is totally missing here.
Drums start off the next song, “Out of Time”, once again. The music comes in strong and I’m immediately taken back to the sounds of the 80’s band Ratt but with a bit of a darker side. A good up beat rhythm gets the listener going but once the vocal line comes in, it brings the whole song down. The melody and music clash with each other to see who should be the dominate one. What should be a good song that sticks in your head, has become, like the first one, boring and repetitious. The outstanding part of this song is the guitar playing of Vance Winston.
Completely forgetting the metal sound of the first two songs, “Sleep in the Dark” turns the band completely around. This song shows where the band can shine. A more modern day approach to song writing has the band on all four cylinders. The vocal melody line compliments the music in way that is reminiscent of Pearl Jam. The vocals here slide into a low to higher range with easy and smoothness. This style brings out the strengths of the band and after listening to the previous numbers, is a path the band should stay on. Avery well crafted and performed song.
Oh, no!! More sound effects of the generic kind begin the song. “Darkest of Rain”. I know it is suppose to bring one in to get the feeling of the song but this has been done to death. A very melodic guitar piece which quickly brings to mind the beginning of Ozzy Osborne’s “Diary of a Madman” as the vocals conjures up early Metal Church. Enter the heavy guitar part which still has the Ozzy/Randy Rhodes influence to it. The music to this song is constructed very well. The swells of the melodic and harder rhythm parts come together fluidly. Once again, good guitar work as well as some very dramatic drumming and bass playing by bassist Lonnie Ray Duncan. The vocal melody line isn’t bad but I still think they could have come up with something much more appealing and inventive which would have brought the song up to another level.
“Exodus” just brings us more of the listless and lackluster melody that has plagued the band. The vocals, just as in “Brigade” are drawn out and have no variation from verse to verse. Yes, the singer can hold a note but he has to learn to inject emotion into the rest of the melody.
There are two remaining songs on the site where I have to say, “Why”. “Pictures on the Wall” and “Two Days from Nashville” are nothing but, you guessed, it…country music. It states that it was a side project but why even post these style of songs if you’re in a different genre and which has absolutely nothing to do with the direction of the current band. I just don’t get it.
The production and sound are powerful, punchy and done very well. The drums, at times sound as if they were sampled from the “EZ Drummer” program especially the high hat sound. Guitars and bass are well balanced and vocals cut through it all, making it stand out but not over the top.
This band has talent. They are all good at their handling their instruments and they do it well. The main problem is in the song writing, more specifically, the vocal lines. The singer has to go back and listen to the masters and he’ll soon learn that melodies have to have the emotion and the dramatic variations that will make a song interesting in every verse. As is, the verses and chorus are sung the same way every time, making for repetitive and dull set of songs. Not a bad band but just one that needs some work.
Paul Ames – Vocals
Vance Winston – Guitar
Lonnie Ray Duncan – Bass
Chris Herman – Drums