'Vengeance Descending'

(Heavy Fidelity/DMP Sweden)

MARK: 95/100


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?
Another 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 love!
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. A miracle?
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.

Thanks 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

Line-up on this record:
Mikael Dahl, v., g., keyboards
Jonathan Nyberg, g.
Claes Wikander, b.
Stefan Svantesson, d.

Official sites:

Crystal Eyes (Demo, 1994)
The Shadowed Path (Demo, 1996)
The Final Sign (Demo, 1997)
The Dragon`s Lair (Demo, 1998)
Gallery Of Demos (Best of/Compilation, 1998)
World Of Black And Silver (Full-length, 1999)
In Silence They March (Full-length, 2000)
Vengeance Descending (Full-length, 2003)
Confessions Of The Maker (Full-length, 2005)
Dead City Dreaming (Full-length, 2006)