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Crystal Viper

Company: AFM Records
Release: 2011
Genre: Traditional, power
Reviewer: EC

  • Classy power metal and traditional fare

  • Poland used to be the one stop shop for the brutal splatterhouse of death metal. Bands like Decapitated and Vader have led the charge on Poland's metal landscape. Bands like Trauma have used that brutal foundation to display a vicious thrash sound but now more and more bands are appearing to change up the formula. Recent albums from Witchking and Mayharon have pushed traditional metal to the forefront. An established member of the Polish metal scene is Crystal Viper, a critically acclaimed traditional/power band that has recently signed to AFM Records.

    "Legends" is the third release from the group and the first for AFM Records after a stint with Karthago Records. This is the best sounding record to date from Crystal Viper, this time recorded at MP Studio in Poland with Bart Gabriel (husband of singer Marta) producing. Traditional metal is the main force here, the band really perfecting that European sound that crosses the sounds of Germany with those in Sweden to fence many of metal's roaming pastures. At times I can hear a global sound from the band, easily laying down that German "Running Wild" vibe but bringing in Italy's neo-classical approach while still keeping it glossy like the Swedes so often do. The band should appeal to fans of White Skull, Zed Yago, Warlock and Chastain as the group features female vocalist Marta Gabriel. Her voice is perfect for the sound, using a "tough" mid-range but still able to provide a beautiful melody when needed.

    This album is really interesting as it features ten individual stories. These stories are made up of Polish folklore and history, from ghost ships to medieval torture to Devilish dealings..."Legends" doesn't leave many stones unturned. This sort of songwriting is what I would like to see more and more in today's metal environment. So many bands try to gain an epic sound by piecing songs together into a concept or running story. I prefer my songs to have individual identities and tell a story in one specific tune (i.e. Iced Earth's "The Horror Show" or Metalium's "Chapter 2").

    Crystal Viper really storm out of the gate with a spoken intro by Manowar's Rhino before heading to the race with "The Ghost Ship". Obviously you can hear Running Wild's galloping chords throughout the album but clearly "Greed Is Blind" is a prime example of the German influence. I also really like what the band does with "Blood Of The Heroes" and "Goddess Of Death", both wicked tunes with a good Swedish feel to them (ala Dream Evil and Black Majesty). My favorite cut on the album is the beautiful ballad "Sydonia Bork" with Gabriel's angelic voice over a piano. This song provoked me to research Bork's nightmare with the church and later torture and execution for "cursing" the kingdom. The band also bring in Mat Sinner, Stefan Kaufmann and members of Wizard to guest on the album. Artwork is by Chris Moyen (Trivium).

    The Bottom Line - Fans of classy power metal and traditional fare will really love "Legends". Crystal Viper write and record their best album to date and finally are gaining a large distribution deal with powerhouse AFM Records. This is a precise and accurate metal album with enough riffs, power and vocals to push them into the next decade. I expect Crystal Viper to ascend the tiers of metal's hierarchy and eventually be leaders and masters of their own genre.

    About this Writer:
    Eric Compton // Eric Compton lives in the most haunted city in the world, St. Augustine, Florida with his family and two yorkies. He has served as senior editor for for nearly 10 years and is the author of the heavy metal book series--Denim & Letters. His reviews, interviews and social commentary has been featured on websites like Brave Words, Blabbermouth, Metal Temple, Metal Rules, Ultimate Metal, Metal Maniacs and Wikipedia.

    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 Crystal Viper:
    LegendsCrystal Viper
    Eric Compton2/24/2011
    Metal NationCrystal Viper
    Hail and Kill1/7/2010
    Queen of the WitchesCrystal Viper
    Eric Compton3/20/2017

    All interviews for Crystal Viper:
    Marta GabrielCrystal ViperMiguel Blardony1/7/2010

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