Poland's Crystal Viper return with another slab of classic/power/thrash metal, though for those not familiar with the band they do mix things up a bit thanks to the commanding vocal presence of Marta Gabriel. It's not often you hear a band of this type with a female vocalist these days (that's usually reserved for gothic or symphonic metal, or the occasional death metal act), but Gabriel certainly takes center stage on their latest AFM release Crimen Excepta. For the most part, the CD is a raging riff fest, with guitars 'a' blazin' and Marta's powerful vocals stabbing in and out of the mix like a young Doro Pesch back in her Warlock days. As good as songs like "Witch's Mark", "Child of the Flames", "Medicus Animarum", and "The Spell of Death" are (and there are some very cool guitar riffs, solos, and harmonies throughout), Gabriel at times can be an acquired taste with her overbearing high pitched histrionics, as she easily overshadows the rest of the band in spots, but thankfully the music is so good that you have to overlook it. "Fire Be My Gates" is like a wild marriage of early '80s Iron Maiden and Chastain, featuring galloping rhythms, swirling guitars, and Gabriel's leather lunged vocals.
Old school metal fans will certainly flock to Crimen Excepta, and they even do a great thrash styled version of the Vader track "Tyrani Piekiel" (featuring Vader frontman Peter on guest backing vocals) which should not scare anyone away thinking the band have dipped into death metal. Despite my reservations at times with Gabriel's suffocating vocals, this is a pretty strong album that shows Crystal Viper continuing to hone their craft.
1. Witch's Mark (4:43)
2. Child Of The Flame (5:43)
3. It's Your Omen (4:21)
4. Crimen Excepta (feat. David Bower of Hell) (6:52)
5. Medicus Animarum (4:38)
6. The Spell Of Death (4:45)
7. Hope Is Gone, Here's New Law (3:54)
8. Fire Be My Gates (6:17)
9. Tyrani Piekiel (Vader Cover) (feat. Peter of Vader) (Bonus Track) (4:51)
10. Ghosts Of Sherwood (Bonus Track)