Reviewed by Mike Paradine
Artist: CRYSTAL VIPER
Release date: December 13th, 2013
Label: AFM Records
01. Zeta Reticuli
02. Voices In My Head
03. Julia Is Possessed
04. Fight Evil With Evil
05. Mark Of The Horned One
06. Why Can’t You Listen?
07. You Will Die You Will Burn
08. We Are Many
09. Prophet Of The End
10. Thunder Steel (cover song by RIOT)
CRYSTAL VIPER is a band from Poland that I got the pleasure of seeing live in Andernauch, Germany at the 5th edition Swordbrothers festival in 2007. Always a strong and true metal band, they have now released 5 albums to date with “Possession” being their recent one.
A short operatic musical piece with a “siren of the sea’ like vocals, “Zeta Reticuli” opens the new CD. After listening to the whole album, I’m not sure where this has any connection to the rest of the album. It’s cool but I’m confused why this is included on the CD, especially as a lead in to the album.
“Voices In My Head” is the first complete song, but I find it as not a strong enough song to start the album off. Vocals and the rapid fire of the bass drumming are totally annoying. The melodic guitar leads try to valiantly bring some sensibility to it but by that time, it’s too late. During mid song, an acoustic guitar piece appears out of nowhere. I found that the vocal melodies are a bit repetitious. As an alternative way of thinking, if the acoustic piece was placed at the beginning of the song and the vocal melody joining over it, it would have made the song more interesting but, as it is, not so much.
Right off the bat, “Julia Is Possessed” has very similar guitar work off anything from Iron Maiden’s “Seventh Son of a Seventh Son” album. A much better song than the first but more of the same maniacal drumming and a bit more angst in Marta’s voice which is good. I’m starting to get an Iced Earth feeling for this album. Another acoustic intermission with the Maiden sounding guitars layered over it toward the ending before the final chorus drives in. The chorus is well written melodically and it’s just a good, sing-a-long as you pump your fist, kind of metal.
As we go along, we’re picking up some speed here. “Fight Evil With Evil” brings us some good driving metal. Marta in some spots sounds like Niklas Stalvind of the Swedish band WOLF. Now, not only the vocals but the song has a kindred spirit in WOLF’s last album “Legions of Bastards”, very similar in sound. Guest vocals by Harry Conlin of Jag Panzer lends a different texture to the song but isn’t really warranted.
Mark Of The Horned One– The music immediately hits me as something off the last Edguy album. Very upbeat with melodic and catchy guitar leads mixed in with a very “folky” vocal melody line. The guitar solo really stands out on this one with some Eddie Van Halen inspired playing.
Now we cut the timing in half and we have a very hard and heavy song in “Why Can’t You Listen?”, with Rainbow and Ronnie James Dio overtones in the verses. As we get to the chorus, they use vocal layers like heard on recent Primal Fear albums. A good steady, well written song.
“You Will Die, You Will Burn” is another good metal song. The music reminds me of a lot of the same progressions in Iced Earths “The Glorious Burden” album complete with speed bass drumming. And that’s not on the positive side. I find this drumming not just annoying but it takes the listener away from the total song. The song it self is catchy and completely metal.
“We Are Many” starts off with some beautifully crafted dual guitar leads. Verses sound like something off Iron Maidens “Seventh Son of a Seventh Son” which leads into some good head banging and fist pumping choruses. An unnecessary, acoustic guitar interlude breaks into some into some really interesting double guitar work and leads…very cool! Marta’s layered vocal style rounds add to this good epic battle song.
Leading off with a short but somber acoustic piece “Prophet Of The End” quickly morphs into guitars that immediately remind me of my favorite DEMON song “Remembrance Day”. The vocals come in and demand attention. Very melodic and catchy chorus follows and I find myself playing air drums along. This is a very cool song which once again, brings me back to the fore mentioned DEMON song…..nice job!!!!
“Thunder Steel” is a cover of the classic song by RIOT– Good job by the band and a great way to end the album.
Lyrically, the band follows into the path of King Diamond on this one. A concept of demon possession that has been around since heavy metal was born but this has a slight twist here, where the demon is actually from a race of aliens. It doesn’t exactly get my curiosity up.
As for the band, Marta’s voice is not from the typical female fronted metal band. She has a sharp, tough but clean vocal sound that compliments the bands style of metal playing. Andy Wave plays all techniques of guitar playing and he does them well. He doesn’t over play them and he knows when to pull back and let the rhythm section take over. Danczak and Badocha play together solidly as a tank rolling over and destroying anything in their path. Though I’m not a fan of this modern style of metal drumming, he does do it well, so no points taken off for that.
So all in all, what you have here is a mostly well written and solid metal album. Good guitar work, sold performances, and generally well structured songs. I like Crystal Viper as they are true to the metal they play and they work hard at it. Marta has my respect for keeping it together all these years. My main concerns are the actual concept of the album and the over use of the acoustic guitar parts. If I’m doing a concept album, I would look for something unique that no one has done before or use a different perspective of an idea that has been done already. And out of the 10 songs here, 5 of them have an acoustic interlude or section in them. Now I do like when an acoustic piece fits well and either compliments or changes direction of a song but on this album it’s unnecessary and overdone. But it is a solid and good metal album.
To read the METAL SHOCK FINLAND’s interview with CRYSTAL VIPER, go HERE.
More information at http://www.crystalviper.com
Marta Gabriel – Vocals
Andy Wave – Guitar
Tomasz Danczak – Drums
Michal Badocha – Bass