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Crimson Shadows
Kings Among Men

Company: Napalm
Release: 2014
Genre: Power blend
Reviewer: Frank Hill

  • An ear-pummeling listen

  • There are a handful of heavy metal styles with an expected sound. Over the years, those standard genres have cross-fed each other into various sub-genres and hybrids. For me, those bands keep the dark waters swirling and fresh from stagnation.

    Crimson Shadows plays epic power metal with a vocal set that is fairly complex and as such initially challenging. 'Kings Among Men' has a pulverizing blend of deep growls, aneurism-inducing shrieks, and clean vocals (plus gang vocals!) often alternating on vocal lines of the same verse or even in unison. It sounds chaotic, but there are patterns in the maelstrom to grab on to, like the power-to-power/growl verse alternations of "Freedom and Salvation".

    How do we begin to refer to a release with a triumvirate of vocal styles? The philosophy behind it all is not death or hate here. It's fantasy elements from classic power ideals with a comingling of triumphant zeal and victorious battle domination. In the titles alone are the informing keywords--victory, rise, heroes, kings, storm, freedom, etc. My only knock on the record is that repetition and me being personally old enough to be somewhat disconnected from the themes. It is a much nicer artistic cover than the prior release though.

    Save for a brief respite of a minute or two, every song gallops at full speed with an unrelenting rhythm, making this an ear-pummeling listen. It takes a few spins to separate out individual songs; usually by the lead melody. There is, at least, a little bit of time for some celebratory ale in "A Gathering of Kings".

    When you incorporate various elements of metal, it makes for an interesting listen, but purists from different camps will have to determine if they can handle this kind of mixed vocal release. If you can (or grow used to it), it may be transgressive enough to open your mind into genres once thought of as personally unapproachable.

    After winning the Wacken Open Air Metal Battle 2013 title against other unsigned, international bands, Crimson Shadows had the bar set high. With 'Kings Among Men', not only have they smashed through it, they have ground the bar into dust.

    This is a Canadian horde setting out to conquer all. Fans of simplistic metal need not apply.

    About this Writer:
    Frank Hill // Frank Hill has been at this site since its slimy, crying birth in '03. He was born on National Metal Day--11/11 and will turn his hearing aids up to 11 when he's 111. He secretly listens to a lot of old Country and Doo-Wop tunes and wants to start a cyberband with lead vocals by Robot Plant. He is still trying to figure out what Judas Priest meant by "paratamize you". If you read this, then he salutes you.

    Maximum Metal Rating Legend - Click for Full Details
    5 Excellent - Buy it and say a prayer to the metal gods that you were tuned on to this masterpiece. A classic.
    4-4.5 Great - Almost perfect records but there's probably a clunker or a lacking somewhere to keep it from perfection. You won't feel bad about dropping some bones on these.
    3.5 Good - Most of the record is good, but there may be some filler. This is the OK range where you'd search for the record on sale or used.
    3 Average - Some good songs, some bad ones at about a half/half ratio. Could show skills but be dull overall. Redeeming qualities for indy bands are effort and passion. Majors that don't try or suck outright end up here.
    2-2.5 Fair - Worth a listen, but best obtained by collectors. There is much better metal out there.
    1-1.5 Bad - Major problems with music, lyrics, production, etc.
    0 Terrible or an otherwise waste of your life and time.

    Note: Reviews are graded from 0-5, anything higher or not showing is from our old style. Scores, however, do not reveal the important features. The written review that accompanies the ratings is the best source of information regarding the music on our site. Reviewing is opinionated, not a qualitative science, so scores are personal to the reviewer and could reflect anything from being technically brilliant to gloriously cheesy fun.

    Demos and independent releases get some slack since the bands are often spent broke supporting themselves and trying to improve. Major releases usually have big financial backing, so they may be judged by a heavier hand. All scores can be eventually adjusted up or down by comparison of subsequent releases by the same band. We attempt to keep biases out of reviews and be advocates of the consumer without the undo influence of any band, label, management, promoter, etc.

    The best way to determine how much you may like certain music is to listen to it yourself.

    All reviews for Crimson Shadows:
    Kings Among MenCrimson Shadows
    Frank Hill9/9/2014

    All interviews for Crimson Shadows:

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