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Crimson Glory: Crimson Glory (remaster)

Anyone remember this silver-masked band from the U.S.A, who played a technical yet melodic variation on the Queensryche sound? Well, I'll admit I chuckled when seeing the back cover of the LP in a record store back in 1986. I mean, why would a new metal band wear bizarre silver masks? Were they trying to hide something? Or was this supposed to be their gimmick? Gimmick or not, the self-titled debut from Crimson Glory, as I soon found out after plunking down $12.00 for the LP, is a scorching and professional sounding slab of melodic progressive metal, with heavy and intricate guitar work, and featuring the over-the-top vocals of a guy named Midnight.

"Valhalla" kicks things off in grand fashion, with blazing fretwork from Jon Drenning leading you into a stunning piece telling the tale of the "hallowed halls of Valhalla." The vocals of Midnight are stunning , as his Geoff Tate inspired vocals reach for the stratosfear. With tasty lead and rhythm guitar work and catchy melodies, this is a great way to start this special album. Perhaps the most commercial track on the album is up next, the upbeat "Dragon Lady." Once again featuring the strong vocals of Midnight, as he wails "...look into her crystal ball, it tells all....she's Dragon Lady." The guitars of Drenning and Ben Jackson are crisp and heavy, with Drenning's leads complex and melodic throughout. Unfortunately the song is barely over four minutes long. A similar formula is followed on "Heart of Steel", yet here the Queensyche influence is very apparent. Starting off with mellow acoustic guitars and the passionate vocal strains of Midnight, the song then explodes into a crunchy metal anthem that shows the band really digging in and perfecting their craft. The guitar solo from Drenning is quite impressive , tasty, melodic, and just enough flash, but most importantly very memorable. That seems to be the overall concept in each tune on this album by the way.

Moody classical guitars open perhaps my favorite track on this debut, the dark and heavy "Azrael." Layers of wonderful multi-tracked guitars complement the chugging rhythm section of Jeff Lords and Dana Burnell, while Midnight screams "...stare in the raven's eye, your time has come to die, welcome to my world...Azrael, Angel of Mercy!" Drenning's lead work here is filled with crazy whammy bar excursions and lightning arpeggios, and the main melody line is just irresistable. In my eyes, this is perhaps the best track this band ever recorded.

I've always felt , even back 17 years ago, that side one of the LP was much stronger than side two. Listening to this new remastered version as much as I have lately confirms my past opinion, although there are a few good tunes in the second half. "Mayday" is a furious speed metal piece, and quite unlike the rest of the album. Midnight's vocals approach Rob Halford intensity, while the guitars are grinding at break-neck pace. "Queen of the Masquerade" is a different story altogether. Featuring a slow, heavy riff, Midnight majestically proclaims "hail, to the Queen of the Masquerade, deep in your heart she feeds." The lead work of Drenning will send shivers up and down your spine, as he pulls out all the stops with harmonic squeals, tremelo wanking, and lightning runs. "Angles of War", a heavy and complex number, also happens to feature the most passionate and emotional vocals from Midnight on the album. It's another melodic metal tune from the Queensryche school of prog-metal, but it really works, with catchy phrases and a memorable chorus. The album finishes with the moody "Lost Reflection", a dark piece that shows Midnight conjuring up all sorts of emotional textures and proving his versatility. With the exception of the bone crunching finale, it's the quietest tune on the album, and perhaps a good way to end this recording, which mostly moves at a furious pace throughout.

The wonderful folks at Metal Mind Productions have done a great job as always remastering this 80's gem, housing this classic in a sharp looking digipack complete with a booklet containing a nice essay on the band and full lyrics. You also get one bonus track, the song "Dream Dancer", which was recorded in 1988. This one starts off as kind of a dreamy, atmospheric number showcasing Midnight's poignant vocals, eventually turning into a pretty potent power metal ballad.

While borrowing heavily from Queensryche, the band still managed to create a super progressive metal album, whose influences I have heard many times in newer bands over the last ten years. Combining great melodies, fantastic guitar work, subtle fantasy and sci-fi lyrics, with heavy and complex arrangements, Crimson Glory, even with the silly masks, created one of the 1980's most memorable progressive metal albums, now remastered for all to enjoy once again.

Track Listing
1. Valhalla
2. Dragon Lady
3. Heart Of Steel ten
4. Azrael
5. Mayday
6. Queen Of The Masquerade
7. Angels Of War
8. Lost Reflection
9. Dream Dancer-bonus track

Added: April 20th 2008
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Crimson Glory Website
Hits: 3489
Language: english

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Crimson Glory: Crimson Glory (remaster)
Posted by Ken Pierce, SoT Staff Writer on 2008-04-20 07:28:26
My Score:

Originally released by Roadrunner Records in 1986, the self-titled debut of Sarasota Florida's Crimson Glory is a welcome addition to any Progressive Metal fans music library. Now made available as a special limited edition reissue/remaster from Metal Mind Productions, those who have longed for such a release to see the light of day will be really happy and those who had only heard of the band in references from others can see just what made them so special in the first place. Crimson Glory was a band who combined powerful melodies and technical musical ability with soaring lead and harmony vocals along with an image that would be as impressive as it was imposing in the visual sense. Sporting full-face silver masks with the exception of the singer whose mouth was exposed, the band was an intriguing mystery on the live stage and like KISS was never photographed without their signature masks. Musically they call us back to a time when Progressive Metal was still in its formative years and should you be a fan that focused on early Queensryche and Fates Warning then you would definitely be on board for the kind of presentation that Crimson Glory brought to the table. Their debut release was self-titled and this worked with a name as impressive and standout as theirs was. They offered up an intricate level of playing ability which was not as common in the bigger Rock scene of the day as Glam Rock was in full swing and when Crimson Glory first came on the scene many of the popular bands were carbon copies of the band who did the same exact thing before them and so on etc. Instead Crimson Glory chose to be different and sing about subjects which were far deeper than a soap opera meant for the Sunset Strip. We find this in tracks like "Valhalla" and "Dragon Lady" where the group takes us to different worlds full of mysticism and atmosphere. Fronted by the mysterious lead singer Midnight, we walk through realms of shadows and time and look forward to each adventure.

There are "almost ballads" on the debut such as "Heart Of Steel" which is a slower number in guitar riffing but has the glass breaking high notes that showcase Midnight as one of the better purveyors of such a style in the genre of the day. There has often been comparison of him against that of Geoff Tate and Rob Halford so you just knew he was belting them out to be thought of in such distinguished company. On guitars the band found Jon Drenning (lead) and Ben Jackson (rhythm) who were both accomplished technicians on the axe and one can tell just how much by the impressive flair shown during the lead breaks and riffing across the album. The solid drumming was care of Dana Burnell while bass was handled by Jeff Lords. The songwriting found on the debut was also strong and even some twenty two years after release finds songs like "Azrael" and the amazing "Loft Reflection" sounding better than some of the Progressive Metal of today. "Mayday" comes as perhaps the fastest and heaviest track on the release and it blazes by with double bass drumming and high pitched screams. The original album closed with "Lost Reflection" and this is a moody and dramatic piece that one can just envision being done live with smoke and lights adding to the effects and vibe. With the remaster we are treated to a bonus track called "Dream Dancer" and this was apparently a b-side release by the band since its not on the original CD or vinyl. The remaster sounds great and really does the band justice and comes with a booklet that provides the inside scoop on their beginnings as well as light mention about the bands two other releases. We find lyrics for the tunes as well but only one photograph which is a group shot. Given the bands overall image I had expected a little more in the way of photos for the reissue but none were provided. This is an amazing debut by a band that had so much potential and yet only delivered two full albums with this lineup. Its music that will leave you wondering "who were those masked Metal heads?."

2004 Sea Of Tranquility
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