Crystal Viper: Legends

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Crystal Viper: Legends
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Crystal Viper: Legends
Heavy Metal
AFM Records
September 20th, 2011
Release length: 46:55
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Crystal Viper formed back in 2003 in Katowice, Poland. Over the years, dedicated fans of Heavy Metal and Power Metal had heard the band name, but chances are not many really took notice due to the amount of demos before being signed. Well, that and the fact that the group features a female vocalist, and given the over saturation of genewric female fronted metal acts, it’s just something that feels more like a gimmick now then something that actually adds anything worthwhile to the mix. The band actually wound up signed back in 2007 for their debut full length The Curse of the Crystal Viper, though that one didn’t really make it overseas, and their follow up failed to make any major waves across the pond either. However, AFM has picked up the band for their third full-length, Legends, and one thing is for sure: This female fronted band is no gimmick riding leech.

Legends opens up with a spoken word narrtive introduction with “The Truth”, which sets up the album in a manner that depicts the title nicely, but the atmosphere this track sets up, about the return of evil and the power of greed, practically doesn’t matter. What comes in next is highly energetic, atmospheric, and powerful Heavy Metal that feels like Hammerfall mated with a toned down Rhapsody of Fire and a vocal approach with enough ballsto really fit the music, give it power, and bring some serious attitude and beauty that Eddie (the Hammerfall mascot) would even bow before Crystal Viper. Meer seconds into “The Ghost Ship”, and you’ll be hooked with the rougher clean singing approach of the vocalist, carrying shades of performances similar to Sister Sin, but a hell of a lot stronger and far better suiting to this approach. The music to the song hammers away at a fast pace with drumming that simply doesn’t stop and really takes command against the catchy, epic-sounding guitar riffs that create a powerful structure until the chorus kicks in with a powerful performance with guitars that are a little less flui then the rest of the song, being more choppy but continues to vuild that epic feel, especially near the end, coupled with male backing vocals that drives the lyrical point of the song home. “The Ghost Ship” stands tall as a testament of well done metal, and how powerful a female voice can be, even in Heavy Metal styles, typically stereotyped for a more male demographic, and it simply doesn’t stop at this song.

Legends continues to impress with each following track, and the range of the female vocalist continues to grow, adding a much more rhaspier style that gives her voice a little more attitude and power at times when the music just picks up and becomes more powerful and beautiful, yet heavy as hell, especially for the following track “Blood of the Heroes”, one of the most addicting tracks on here, though it shares many similarities to “The Ghost Ship” musically, suffering from some patterns that can easily be overlooked by the fantastic Heavy Metal music that is so tighter and better executed by many of today’s Heavy Metal acts. But while these tracks have a real kick to them that is very impressive, the band isn’t afraid to belt out a ballad. “Sydonia Bork” takes on the classic Metal ballad with the slight epic Symphonic Power Metal overtones, and the music is simply amazing, matching the clean vocal performance nicely, being very well harmonized with the music, showing impeccable range in her clean singing, simply beautiful voice with a background performance layered over it that feels a little rougher, and really tugs at the heart strings with the keyboards and matching drumming and cymbol crashes, making you want to whip out your lighter, or the nearest one, and hold it high in the air in support of such a moving track. But even that isn’t the most moving track here, as the following song “Goddess of Death” amps up that ballad approach with a more anthem-sounding sing that shows an even more astounding vocal range that just adds to the epic anthemic Heavy Metal sound the band seems to play so flawlessly and effortlessly.

It’s pointless to go on about the rest of the material on the recording, as it is all as impressive as the songs that kick off the album. Aside mentioning that “TV War” is an Accept cover, and a well done one at that, the only other song that should be pointed out is “A Man of Stone”, which carries a strong Power Metal feel to it in some parts, but really feels more like it takes some Punk inspiration in the vocal performance. It’s far from bad, in fact it works out well with the song and gives it an upbeat feeling that takes away from the epic vibe of the album, but in the long run just makes the song sound carefree, coming off more as a fun song that even the band had fun doing.

Other then that, the rest of Legends is fantastic, and there’s nothing to complain about. It’s pretty much the perfect Heavy Metal album. It’s full of replay value and epic, insanely catchy tracks that destroy the common Heavy Metal mold, all fronted by a female singer that single handedly obliterates the generic gimmicky female singer role in Metal today. The music here is strong, and right from the start you instantly get hooked, and fans of the style will immediately have a grin from ear to ear within the first thirty seconds of “The Ghost Ship”. Each song doesn’t challenge the listener to stay put and attentive, or entice him or her to stay with some trick or a randomly catchy song. Instead the songs demands the listener, and paints a beautiful, yet commanding atmosphere that instantly steals the attention of the listener in the most impressive effortless of manners. This is Heavy Metal, pure and simple. There’s nothing else that can be said except that you need to buy this album now. Your eardrums will thank you.

01. The Truth (Intro) – 0:41
02. The Ghost Ship – 4:22
03. Blood of the Heroes – 4:42
04. Greed is Blind – 4:08
05. Sydonia Bork – 4:59
06. Goddess of Death – 5:44
07. Night of the Sin – 4:25
08. Secret of the Black Water – 4:51
09. A Man of Stone – 4:57
10. Black Leviathan – 4:38
11. TV War (Accept cover) – 3:29

Overall Score: 10/10
Crystal Viper (band)
Crystal Viper (logo)
Digital review copy of this release provided by AFM Records via Earsplit PR.