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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: 4676
Language: english

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