Company: High Roller Records/Spiritual Beast Release: 2009 Genre: Power Reviewer: Hail and Kill
Unadulterated power metal
If the future of Dungeons and Drangons metal were in the hands of Crystal Viper, then the genre's fate is secured. Fronted by a chick with more 'oomph' In her voice than most pseudo-gothic Nightwish clones, Crystal Viper's music is an onslaught of slaying guitar bombast and huge choruses driven by edge-of-your seat tempos. The band may have long professed eternal fealty to metal's 80's golden age, yet their brand of steel does hew closer to latter-day Gamma Ray, Doro, and Rhapsody. What sets them apart from every fruity practitioner is they avoid the symphonic touches in favor of blazing guitar pyrotechnics that would make Dragonforce blink.
The absolute cheese reigns at the start of the album where an intro brings the listener to ye olden times of battles and wondrous magicry. This little sound-laden audio noodle pulls in the first song and title track where Crystal Viper deliver the goods with refreshing earnestness. Their lyrics might have been taken straight from the book of Hammerfall, but this quintet aren't two bit musicians--they have an ear for memorable song craft and work lyrical spells on each chorus. 'Bringer of Light,' 'The Anvil of Hate,' and 'Zombie Lust' are worthy tunes shimmering with power and blessed by the kind of musicianship that keeps these Vipers from sounding too much like every Helloween wannabe out there. Even Marta Gabriel herself belts out lines like an energized Doro Pesch on songs whose themes are grim enough to give the band the same street cred as 3 Inches Of Blood.
Unfortunately, an awful (and obligatory) 'ballad' titled 'Her Crimson Tears' stews for a good minute or three before the band shift to Manowar mode on 'Legions of Truth' that's followed by the sandals and leather anthem 'Gladiator (Die By The Blade).' To their audience's surprise, Crystal Viper pull a 180 and hit the gas for the white-knuckle finisher 'Agents of Steel' whose frenetic tempo almost passes for thrash metal. Once it wraps in a blaze of glory, your ears feel like they've just been raped by unadulterated power metal. It leaves the listener either disgusted by the aural experience or begging for a second serving of righteous cheese.
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