While the debut album from these Sicilian metalheads doesn't seem to have convinced everybody, the return with the new singer is destined to conquer any Symphonic Power Prog Metal lover, or at least turn a lot of those heads.
There are several Black Metal acts from Sicily, but Power Metal probably comes after number-wise, and "Last Poetry Line" seems to be one of the best recent efforts hailing from across the strait.
The lyrics of the ten tracks deal with: emotions in the subconscious, a last meeting, a hopeless life, a man who hasn't taken the reins of his life, slipping by while he gets old; and also: a landscape of cold hills and mountains at night, a night spent thinking about a woman named Aletha, the quiet after the storm, silence after somebody is gone, sad memories through a heirloom, a farewell after love is over. Although decidedly on the sad, tragic and dramatic side, the songs don't usually contain sombre episodes, and certainly never in the sung parts.
As regards the artwork, I don't find the front cover cheesy as some German colleagues did and the remaining pages contain artwork, lyrics, photos, information except the studio where the tracks were recorded, mixed and mastered.
Those who rave over Judas Priest, Yngwie Malmsteen, Rhapsody the Speed Power Symphonic Metal of "Black Shelter" contains a lot of good elements: keys solos, an excellent guitar solo and good entwining between keyboards and drums in the final part.
Pompous Prog Metal in the instrumental structures and delightful vocals are instead the main characteristics of the title track, while heavier and catchier than the rest is "Death Dwells in Sight"; the songwriting here is of even superior quality, with passages coming one after the other in a pretty natural way both when there are Thrashy rapid poundings and mid-tempos.
Definitely more elegant, "In Vain", offers vocals delivering a more AOR-touch (Mantra-like). Even here, after memorizing it on the second listen it becomes instinctive to sing it together with the vocalist and play one's air keyboards during the penetrating keys fugues.
"The Hills Gaze in Silence" is the first ballad, matched by higher backing vocals by Guido himself and others by guest female vocalist Valentina Gulizzi; this is a masterpiece of vocals and arrangements with the acoustic guitar that gives thrills everytime it's played.
Prog Metal based on layers of different vocals (some singing high, some whispering in the background), "Still" reminds me of some Dream Theater in the instrumental moments; there are several solos of keyboards and guitar that are respectively breathtaking, exotic and rocky.
Another song where the voice has AOR tints in the less fast parts is "The Storm", although the drums are hammering hard in the meantime when they aren't following a Power Metal pattern. There is a Prog Metal break with piano keys after a Jazz framework before the final galloping.
Darker than the previous one and all of the other tracks, "Whisper" is devoid of bass and drums, yet this gets counterbalanced by a piano, a viola or a similar orchestral instrument, and very glum vocals in line with the lyrics.
Without a second silence, the lengthy "Heirloom" begins; this composition encapsulates numerous facades and is sung and played faultlessly. The double kick drums and the semi-acoustic constructions make this semi-ballad always interesting, but it's Guido's outstanding performance the one that renders this opus a highlight of the album with all of his nuances along with the so meaningful guitar strokes.
The CD version contains the bonus "Farewell Is Forever", a song that is no filler at all because of its good arrangement quality, and also the sounds appear to be from the same recording and studio. In this case we're dealing with a Progressive Metal track growing gradually, embellished by delicate keys and mesmerizing vocals. In this song the bass has a more important role in the pre-solo structures, and it would have been even better if it had been mixed as high as in this instance during the whole record.
The production is not bad but not always polished and powerful enough; sometimes it recurs to modern sounds to bridge two different parts. Besides this you cannot find unexpected or original aspects in Crimson Wind's comeback, yet at the same time nothing will sound fusty or even worse a rip-off. The execution is excellent, the technical skills draw up at elevated levels, and the manner the songs were written make these 52 minutes pass as if they were 35, which is another plus.
Fans of Kamelot, Sonata Arctica, Whyzdom, Blind Guardian, Rhapsody, Serenity, Dark Moor, early Nightwish, Within Temptation, Vision Divine, Angra, etc., this was such a killer find, men! Can't wait to see them live now that on their tenth anniversary they've added a second guitar player.