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Wicked Sensation: Crystallized

Germany's Wicked Sensation first burst onto the scene in 2001 with their excellent debut album Reflected. The combination of guitarist Michael Klein's bombastic riffing and the Coverdale flavour of Robert Soeterboek's vocals made for impressive end result. Three years later Victory singer Fernando Garcia had taken up the position behind the mic, however the album Exceptional, while missing the bluesy edge of the debut was still a hard hitting collection of songs. By 2006 the dreaded "musical differences" had set in and it appeared that was that for Wicked Sensation.

Klein however never let go of the vision for his band and once he teamed up again with original singer Robert Soeterboek it was only a matter of time before Wicked Sensation would be once more. Keyboard player Bernd Spitzner also rejoined the ranks; however an all new rhythm section was required. The drum stool was filled by Dirk Bruinenberg, however the real coup comes in the shape of bassist - and producer with the Midas touch Dennis Ward, who not only plays the four string, but as expected sat behind the mixing desk to produce what is unsurprisingly, an excellent sounding disc. Never really a band to be easily pigeon holed, Crystallized sees Wicked Sensation cover a variety of styles that fall under the melodic rock banner. Opener "Better World" is a Teutonic blast of metalized guitars and galloping kick drums that allows Soeterboek to bellow at full power and with the pounding bass line and Klein's soaring solo, this is a great way to kick off an album. That uncompromising beginning makes the modern edge of "My Turn To Fly", where Soeterboek duets with Helloween singer Andi Deris all the more surprising and while it is a decent song, it does detract from the early impact created. That however is the rough that you need to take with the smooth as far as Wicked Sensation are concerned, as the flow of the album could in all honesty be smoother if a slightly less eclectic approach had been taken. For all its awkward running order, it does have to be said that there are no tracks that actually don't deserve their place on this album and the only price paid for this slight genre jumping is that it does take quite a few listens before the tracks really begin to reveal their charms.

The out and out Whitesnake of "Gimme The Night", which features Ayreon's Arjen Lucassen, has a glorious bluesy keyboard infused riff and a tremendously rich Coverdale like vocal. Whereas the bulldozing attack and off kilter backing vocals that make up "Ordinary Man" couldn't be further removed from that style, until that is the melodious chorus runs in the opposite direction and we are almost back in AOR. Those contradictions do lessen as the album works through its thirteen tracks with "Running Through Your Veins", "Am I Right" or the beautiful acoustic strains of "The Love I Used To Know" all sounding like John Sykes had a hand in the writing. All five of the band members put in fine performances and a guest slot from Eric Ragno (Graham Bonnet, China Blue etc) who plays keys on "Give It Up" adds to the class on show which does come to the fore as you return to the album.

My thoughts Crystallized have changed considerably as I've gotten to know it better, first listens left me a little confused and under whelmed, however if you give it the time to develop and settle in your mind then there is a lot to recommend here. It is a welcome return for Wicked Sensation, however I do expect a little more from them next time round.

Track Listing
1. Better World
2. My Turn To Fly
3. Fistful Of Dreams
4. Give It Up
5. Lost In A World
6. Love To Play
7. Gimme The Night
8. Am I Right
9. Lonely Is The Night
10. Ordinary Man
11. The Love I Used To Know
12. Running Through You Veins
13. Bleeding Hearts

Added: June 13th 2010
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Metal Heaven Records
Hits: 2724
Language: english

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