Crescent Shield - The Last of My Kind - 2007 - Cruz Del Sur Music
1. Above Mere Mortals 2. Slaves To the Metal Horde 3. Rise of the Red Crescent Moon 4. Burn With Life 5. The Last of My Kind 6. North for the Winter 7. The Path Once Chosen 8. The Great Devoid 9. Unfinished Ashes 10. Await the Champion 11. The Passing
With bands like Slough Feg, Hammers of Misfortune, Antiquus, Pharaoh, and now Crescent Shield, it appears as though North America has a serious heavy metal revival on its hands. While many metal subgenres have enjoyed phases of renewed popularity over this past decade, traditional metal predominantly remained a thing of the past. The only bands that were headlining the scene tended to be those making comebacks and capitalizing on nostalgia as often as legitimate talent. And, whenever a new band came up claiming to play ‘old school’, they typically were referring to old school thrash or doom, leaving the middle ground (and, coincidentally, middling tempos) behind. However, since 2003 or so, the aforementioned bands and others like them have been reinvigorating the old guard. This makes the title of Crescent Shield’s ‘The Last of My Kind’ an unintentional misnomer, but this debut is otherwise rather promising.
After the slightly clunky ‘Above Mere Mortals’ the album begins to settle in and assert itself. The confidence level on ‘The Last of My Kind’ and its composition continuity clearly have benefited from the members’ prior experience. Although both are relatively unknown, Michael Grant’s Onward and Dan DeLucie’s Destiny’s End helped develop each artist’s talents and, in their disbandment, help bring about Crescent Shield, which appears to be their most ambitious effort yet.
However, this experience unfortunately does not prevent Grant from being the primary shortcoming of Crescent Shield. His vocal range, timbre, and lyrics (“…metal will never die…”) are highly appropriate for traditional heavy metal, but something about his style in Crescent Shield simply sounds uncomfortable, particularly when compared to his previous work. Generally a good vocalist for singalongs, Grant’s vocal lines on this album are instead memorable mostly for their repetitiveness rather than inherent quality. For the most egregious example of this, see ‘Rise of the Red Crescent Moon’, where an otherwise decent song falls victim to overzealous paste-ins of the chorus harmony. Overall, it sounds as though Grant has tried to take on a more epic, grandiose character for Crescent Shield, but his range and phrasing both become very limited as a result. A couple songs do break out of the formula, though, such as ‘Burn with Life’ or ‘The Path Once Chosen’, both of which happen to be some of the album’s fastest and shortest tracks.
It would also be nice to hear the musicians in the band push themselves a little more. Although the album has tight execution and a few standout tracks, it rarely feel as though the musicians are stretching out of their comfort zone. DeLucie’s guitarwork especially draws this symptom out into the open as he can volley from rote rehearsal to ripping excitement and back again within a single solo’s duration.
In some cases, though, Crescent Shield manage to satisfy both their own ambitions and the listener. The album’s title track, also its epic, shows in places the band that they are capable of becoming: weighty, a little rough, faintly melancholic—not unlike Jag Panzer, in fact. If on their next album Crescent Shield can manage to find the balance between their up-tempo jaunts and stately centerpieces, their second effort is sure to find even greater success.
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