"Eyes Of A Killer" by Eric Compton
Sweden's Crystal Eyes was founded by guitarists and songwriters Mikael Dahl and Niclas Karlsson. The band formed in 1992 during a time when many felt metal had died. Since then the band has overcome adversity, releasing six albums in their twenty-two year history. The road has been long and unpaved with the lineup including over twelve different members, two of which were vocalists.
When asked about the progress and development since the band's 1999 debut "World Of Black And Silver" Mikael Dahl said, "I'm still very proud of "World Of Black And Silver" despite its terrible production. This was who I was as a songwriter at the time and I still enjoy listening to it. It shows a young and hungry band that wants everything and it is just full speed and happiness. Even if we've always played heavy metal I would say that the sound has gone from German to British. As a songwriter and producer I've put down a lot more work in making everything simpler on the last three records. The songs have gone from Helloween to Judas Priest and Iron Maiden and that probably means I've gone back in time. I can't tell you what causes these changes but I'm sure that whatever I listen to at the moment has some reflections in my song writing."
The Swedes' first three albums featured Dahl handling guitars and vocals. After that the group was fronted by Daniel Heiman (ex-Lost Horizon) and Soren Adamsen (ex-Artillery, Crystal Tears). This year Dahl returns to the microphone for the band's upcoming record "Killer". Dahl explains why he has returned to vocals and what influenced the decision.
"After Vengeance Descending" I felt it was too much to be the lead singer, guitarist, songwriter, producer with a full time job and a family. I had to practice a lot on my vocals and struggled pretty hard with it during the recording. So I decided to get another singer in the band. We had two other singers on the last three records but I sang lead on the last song for each of those plus all backing vocals. I was still the singer on our rehearsals and I recorded all vocals on the demo recordings. Beside that I was still pretending to be Rob Halford in Defenders Of The Faith, the Judas Priest tribute band we formed in 1993. I think it was sometime after "Dead City Dreaming" when I started feeling more comfortable with my vocals. Friends told me that the vocals on the demo recordings were fantastic and that I should be the singer of Crystal Eyes. When Nico turned down a gig in Sweden I didn't have to think twice. We all agreed it was time for me to get back to where I belong. Of course it's not a big step for us because that's the way we've always rehearsed."
The last studio album to feature Dahl's as the lead singer was 2003's "Vengeance Descending". Eleven years is a long time to hone skills and fine tune a craft. When asked about the changes in his voice Dahl stated, "I think my vocal styles are much wider these days and I've found a heavier side in my upper register that I use a lot. It feels like having two different voices. The highest screams are still there but maybe more controlled after years of Rob Halford imitations. The biggest improvement is that I feel more relaxed while singing and I think that is what makes the difference in the end."
Later this year the band plans on releasing "Killer" via their new label Massacre Records. When asked about the upcoming release and the label change Dahl elaborated, "We've nothing bad to say about our last label Metal Heaven. It's a very small company focusing mostly on AOR and melodic stuff and we just felt it was time to get to another level. We sent out some demo recordings and the best offer came from Massacre. This is an old classic label and I actually have a lot of their releases in my record collection."
Many fans will know the name Fredrik Nordstrom. The famed producer has album credits with the likes of In Flames, Dream Evil and Hammerfall. The band has collaborated with him in the past and Dahl explains the decision to continue that tradition this year. "Our last two records were mixed by Fredrik and we think he's the best out there. He's a great guy and he really likes Crystal Eyes. I mixed two records by myself before deciding it was impossible to get the sound I wanted. The sound on the last three records really feels like Crystal Eyes and I'm sure we'll work with Fredrik in the future. We're lucky to have our own studio where we can record and rehearse. Fredrik came to us for a day to set the sound and then we recorded everything ourselves."
The band's album cover is fitting to the title "Killer". The band brought in the talented artist Jan Yrlund (Manowar, TYR) to develop the artwork. Dahl explains the album cover concept and design. "After finishing the lyrics to the song "Killer" I just knew that we had the title for the new record. We had millions of ideas for the cover but Stefan mentioned something he'd seen on a poster for an old horror movie and that became the main idea. It was Massacre who suggested Jan and we thought he'd done some nice things in the past so we decided to give him a try. I have to say that I'm more than satisfied and the cover is exactly what we wanted."
Look for "Killer" later this year and an announcement from the band soon on a release date. For more information on Crystal Eyes check out the band's catalog on Spotify or the following links:
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