It is stunning
how a review can be far from others' perception and reality itself. Somebody doesn't
like singer Mikael Dahl's vocals, and that's acceptable, but stating his vocals
are weak, and daring to add the riffs aren't nearly aggressive enough
and the songs miss a clear focus is something that doesn't correspond to the truth
at all. On the contrary, I found a steady ability to set up and arrange compositions
successfully where many failed, whereby this third full-length by the Swedes can
be enumerated among the pearls of the genre; moreover, its existence should be
more spread out by Power metallers conferring upon themselves this title, so as
not to let it rust on shops' and mailorders' shelves.
Almost an hour divided
in ten tracks of Heavy/Power, not original but presented in a fresh and involving
fashion, with a couple of guest vocal interventions by Daniel Heiman, ex Lost
Horizon's singer and guest vocalist on Crystal Eyes' next album too, and and Chroming
Rose's Gerd Salewski.
The title track unwinds through Gamma Ray refrains, Judas
Priest riffs and vocals alà Accept, showing a very classic bridge in the
finalé. "Highland Revenge", warlike and in line with the
lyrics dedicated to the Scots' pride, is enlightened by an awesome hug between
a solo of acoustic guitar and the keyboard; later the piercing solos on explosive
drumwork make the rest; really a wonderful song with a refrain and axes that would
turn the most fearful soldier without balls to the bravest troop, but I would've
preferred battlelike lyrics hinged on the wars that occurred between Swedes and
Norwegians or Finns. Who knows why they opted for Scotland? Maybe it's more up-to-date?
hit, long but delivering magic from start to finish is "Child of Rock",
easy to remember Class metal yet never kitsch, dedicated to the founder/singer/guitarist/keyboardist's
daughter, who embroiders two remarkable guitarsolos that chubby Malmsteen would
The cool-lyricked attack against a wannabe journalist, "Mr. Failure",
and "The Beast in Velvet" ooze with Helloween's traces, as well
as "The Wizard's Apprentice", but to be precise this last song
contains vocal lines influenced by James Labrie.
The strength of this record
is its diversity, the richness of styles all linked to one another and never too
distant among them; this is particularly plain during the listen of "Dream
Chaser", on which the ghost of Iron Maiden's "Piece of Mind"
hovers around; this composition is also vital as it contains the best chorus and
solos of the platter, whose consistency is confirmed by the following "Metal
Crusade", reuniting Classic metal, Epic metal and a pair of riffs borrowed
even from the old Metallica! In spite of those negative out of place comments
on Dahl's singing capacity, this one displays best he is not a mere vocalist but
a true singer; take heed to the marvellous high vocals and after that session
you will feel, if not reborn, at least lighter and better; I myself had the prodromes
of a flu the first time I approached it; I put the song on keeping my faithful
bottle of high-quality Russian vodka beside and after five minutes I was healed.
Vaguely Queensryche and Iron Maiden at the beginning, "Heart
of the Mountain" is a gem that should appear on all texts of Power metal
for advanced learners; there're also a few Savatage-like streakings, but after
all the piece remains fairly personal.
The ballad "Oblivion in the
Visionary World" concludes with elegance the disc using acoustic guitars
and soft keyboard layers affecting your humour and causing you to remember how
gleeful, sweet and innocent everything appeared the world to all of us when we
were children. There's also place for a distorted solo doubling the acoustic guitar;
this song surprises me and gives me thrills even at the 20th listen.
to the perfect Swedish educational system we can enjoy artists like these, able
to awaken our most buried emotions or recharge us with mental energy. I reckon
Crystal Eyes themselves do not realize completely how high their songs fly and
where they bring our minds and hearts. Let's bow before these genuine unmatchable
champions and don't let us deceived by other big names' releases; it's wiser to
spend time and money on a good record by a not so popular act instead of possessing
the complete discography of a band which, physiologically, can't stay at the top
for twenty years and may release material of lower quality every now and then.
MARKUS GANZHERRLICH - 20th September 2006