Crystal Ball: Dawnbreaker

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Crystal Ball: Dawnbreaker
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Crystal Ball: Dawnbreaker
Hard Rock, Melodic Power Metal
Massacre Records
November 29th, 2013
Release length: 50:44
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Crystal Ball is a five-piece Melodic Power Metal group from Switzerland. Initially started as a cover back in 1995 under the monicker Cherry Pie, the band ditched the name and started writing original material around 1998. A year later, they issued their debut full-length effort, In the Beginning. Since then, there have been five more albums, as well as three singles, the first being back in 1998 for “Eye to Eye.” 2013 marks the release of Dawnbreaker, their seventh studio album, and the first to be released through Massacre Records. Has time been kind to Crystal Ball, or is this far from another pleasant experience?

If you have never heard of Crystal Ball before, it may be due to their upbeat, sometimes family-friendly sound. The group’s music is along the lines of Freedom Call, having a very rich and uplifting sound, but the performances are never really that technical, often coming off as standard cheesy Power Metal with melodic hooks that can sometimes give it a little extra edge. It’s far from bad, and offers some pretty catchy tracks. After the classical inspired “strong man” performance on “Zarathustra,” listeners are met with the heavy “Break of Dawn,” which has more of a Hard Rock attitude to it. Lyrically it breaks that family-friendly vibe by throwing some swearing into the mix to add to the rougher attitude-driven main verses. “Back for Good” finds more open passages with a hint of eighties Rock rebellion, as well as some heavier bridges that sound more like anthemic pounding, especially given the deeper, rougher vocals. Much of this song sounds like a mix of U.D.O. and Lordi at times, making you wish it would go a little over-the-top, or a add some more enthusiasm to the clean singing other than the growls that creep up in two short spots.

These edgier tracks are rather limited, but it’s nothing to worry about. “Anyone Can be a Hero” has some solid Power Metal hooks throughout, but it’s the chorus that really weaves some upbeat riffs that really try to be inspirational, and in a minimalistic way does the job well. The layered clean singing against a simple drum beat with held guitar notes, backed with a rather complex bass presence, allows it to be a reaffirming casual experience you can easily get into. The same goes for the historically driven “The Brothers Were Wright,” which is composed of lyrical praise for the Wright brothers, and their contributions towards aviation. There’s also the slower paced “Stranded,” which skirts the line between ballad and slower Power Metal performance. It also is one of the few that finds the band going a bit further. Around four minutes in, the track gets a little more epic compared to the slow, almost depressing start. The vocals even gain that long desired enthusiasm, though much of it thanks to layering, and the moving guitar solo that triggers the change is just fantastic.

When it comes to Melodic Power Metal acts, Crystal Ball isn’t the most outstanding or unique, and Dawnbreaker easily confirms this. No, this recording isn’t bad, and in fact it’s pretty solid for what the group is trying to accomplish. The mixture of infectious Metal hooks with Hard Rock attitude at times fits the eighties-era audio quality and performances well. It may be the standard for the genre, and often can be restrained, but each track is performed well and with enough energy to keep the listener attentive. Dawnbreaker is one of those albums you can just throw on when you want to kick back and relax to some casual music, which also makes it a strong recording to keep handy in your car as well for those long trips that need a safe go-to album. Crystal Ball definitely please their current fan base once more this time around, and while it may not win a good deal of new listeners, it provides another consistent release of Rock and Metal worship and enlightenment with just the right amount of cheese.

01. Zarathustra – 1:29
02. Break of Dawn – 3:10
03. Anyone Can Be a Hero – 3:51
04. The Brothers Were Wright – 3:38
05. Eternal Flame – 3:47
06. Skin to Skin – 4:45
07. Walls Fall Down – 4:10
08. Back for Good – 4:11
09. Power Pack – 4:07
10. Stranded – 5:37
11. Sun Came Out – 4:34
12. Touch the Sky – 4:20
13. Bond of Love – 3:06
Initial Pressing Score: 8/10

Crystal Ball
Crystal Ball

Digital review copy of this release provided by Massacre Records.