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Crystal Breed: The Place Unknown

On its debut record, The Place Unknown, progressive metal quartet Crystal Breed stick mainly to tried and true tropes of the genre, such as histrionic vocals, dense guitar riffs, and sharp keyboard timbres. However, thanks to some surprisingly catchy songs, refreshing dynamics, and a significant amount of variety, they manage to stand out from the pack (if only just).

Formed in 2008 in Hanover, the group consists of singer/guitarist Niklas Turmann, singer/keyboardist Corvin Bahn, bassist Michael Schugardt, drummer Thorsten Harnitz. Apparently, their name signifies "catchy choruses, intelligent arrangements, powerful choral singing…bombastic sounds and hard riffs," and their influences include the usual genre players.

"Lies" opens the album as you'd probably expect – odd time signatures, futuristic keyboards sounds, and operatic singing (actually, he sounds like Danny Elfman). It's certainly appealing and technically impressive, but it's not exactly anything fresh. Luckily, "Floating on Waves" reveals a more surprising and special side of Crystal Breed; essentially an acoustic ballad, its melody is beautiful (as are the vocals), and the piano accompaniment is restrained yet crucial. After a classically inspired middle section, the track evolves into a very affective instrumental closing.

The most commercial song on The Place Unknown, the title track succeeds because of its unexpectedly poppy chorus, balance of intensity, and Queen/Muse inspired harmonies. "Move" bares a undeniably similarity to any number of Dream Theater ballads, while "Rockstar Wannabe" is another fine example of how well Crystal Breed mixes light and heavy styles. "No Turning Back" features angelic harmonies and melodies, and "Words of Silence" is an appropriately pleasant ballad to close the album.

The Place Unknown is an extremely strong debut; while it isn't revolutionary in any respect (you'll no doubt hear familiar sounds), Crystal Breed features better songwriting, singing, and arranging than many of its contemporary, relatively unknown peers. Overall, in the sea of prog metal artists trying to get your attention, this group deserves it more than most.

Track Listing
1. Lies
2. Floating on Waves
3. The Place Unknown
4. Move
5. Rockstar Wannabe
6. No Turning Back
7. Back T'your Mum
8. Worshiper
9. Words of Silence

Added: January 9th 2012
Reviewer: Jordan Blum
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 3203
Language: english

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