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Crimson Glory: Strange and Beautiful (remaster)

Now that Florida's Crimson Glory have reunited recently, it's fitting that this remaster from Metal Mind Productions & Roadrunner Records falls into our lap. The band, who burst onto the scene with their self-titled debut in 1986, released this third album in 1991, which was a drastic departure from their Queensryche inspired progressive/power metal that they displayed on their first two releases. Strange and Beautiful, which saw the band without original members Ben Jackson (guitar) and Dana Burnell, offers up a different variety of sounds, from the complex prog-metal of the epic title track, to the bluesy crunch of "Promise Land", to the almost folky ballad of "Love and Dreams". Returning guitarist Jon Drenning and lead vocalist Midnight decided to lose the silver masks that the band had previously worn, and write songs that had more emotion, more ethnic flavor, and relied more on textures and different musical styles than metal cliches. For the most part it really worked here, like on the Deep Purple inspired guitar/organ romp of "Chant", or the ballsy guitar crunch of "In the Mood". However, the album is not without a few stinkers, like the generic pop rock of "Dance on Fire", or the sappy ballad "Song For Angels", two songs that must have really shocked fans at the time of this albums release. For many, the band's decision to move away from progressive metal to a more Led Zeppelin flavored attack on "Starchamber" must have seemed an odd choice, but in actuality this direction somewhat echoed Queensryche's drastic shift on their album Rage For Order. Their mix of Guns 'N' Roses raunch and Whitesnake blues metal on "Make You Love Me" is another example of this shift in style-it works, but is shocking considering how the first two Crimson Glory albums sounded. In the case of Queensryche, their move from up and coming heavy prog metallers to glammy rockers on Rage For Order ( a very good album) was also a bit shocking in its suddeness.

Strange and Beautiful, regardless of how much of a different sounding Crimson Glory album it is, still sees the band in fine form and delivering a quality product. Midnight as always sounds great with his powerful and rich Geoff Tate-styled vocals, and Drenning's guitar riffs and solos are masterful. The addition of Indian drummer Ravi Jakhotia added pleny of Middle Eastern flavors to many of the songs, which was a new element that the band never had before. While there are a few weak cuts, for the most part this is a solid album that is worth investigating if you didn't check it out initially upon its release 16 years ago. This remaster comes in a nice digipack with lyrics and album info.

Track Listing
1. Strange and Beautiful
2. Promise Land
3. Love and Dreams
4. Chant
5. Dance on Fire
6. Song for Angels
7. In the Mood
8. Starchamber
9. Deep Inside Your Heart
10. Make You Love Me
11. Far Away

Added: May 1st 2007
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Crimson Glory Website
Hits: 3741
Language: english

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Crimson Glory: Strange and Beautiful (remaster)
Posted by Ken Pierce, SoT Staff Writer on 2007-05-01 06:33:09
My Score:

When Strange And Beautiful was released by Crimson Glory their existing fans would find that the band had shifted gears just enough to leave them wondering how this was the follow up to the killer and very influential album Transcendence. The reason being simply that this releases predecessor was a Progressive Metal meets Melodic Metal masterpiece and it still holds up today against many of its peers of the time but when it came to Strange And Beautiful they would find the band moving closer into experimental Melodic Hard Rock avenues. There were also two additional changes that no one saw coming and the first would be the departures of guitarist Ben Jackson and drummer Burnell while the second would be the abandoning of the groups signature silver masks. Drums became the job of Ravi Jakhotia (from India), and he would introduce new feels and patterns to the groups style. Musically, guitarist Jon Drenning was quoted as saying that "not everything was going to be about fabled lands and dragons". The title track flows like a modern day Led Zeppelin Prog-Cruncher, while "Love And Dreams" sounds more akin to what you would find Cinderella doing at the time. "The Chant" finds them performing a song from their friends in Outlaw Blood and again its more Hard Rock anthem than that of the once Prog-Metal smiting we were used to getting. While change is often good I think that when this originally appeared that many of the musical illustrations they used really ended up alienating more of their fans than bringing them in. I recalled my own initial hesitation about it, but now some sixteen or so years later, am able to find this an interesting listen. This remastered edition by the folks at Metal Mind Productions offers a brilliant production level and incredible detailed liner notes and photos.

"Dance On Fire" to me was the weirdest track and more suited to a Glam Band than these guys, but "Song For Angels" would show them capable of a touching ballad and find the listener reaching for their lighters to hold them high. Personal favorites for me were found in "Deep Inside Your Heart" for its big and resounding chorus and "In The Mood" as well as the title track since those supplied the heavier aspect that much of this left me wanting back in the day. Listening as a music fan today made me realize that in my youth that I was quite guilty of writing off a group for simply too much change a trait I have very happily lost as the years passed by. The band felt this was more a "Psycho Sexual" release with lyrics that were more carefree than dark and ominous. The changes introduced here can be compared to the like of Queensryche who surprised fans with Rage For Order, a definite departure from their own beginnings. For it's release year of 1991, Crimson Glory was not only a band dealing with their own lineup and musical change but the changing times of the industry as Grunge Rock began to strengthen it's foothold and snare audiences of all demographics. All in all, Strange And Beautiful is an interesting and worthy part of any Metal collection. The album's closer "Far Away" is a perfect ending for the piece as the credits roll up and we return once again to our day. Don't let this one pass you by a second time.

2004 Sea Of Tranquility
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