Crystal Viper are a Polish female fronted traditional heavy metal band who have been around since 2003. Front woman and guitarist Marta Gabriel writes all the music and lyrics and with this their fifth studio album has gone into concept album territory with guest singers and a desire to make this an epic heavy metal album.
Listening to the album musically it is squarely in traditional heavy metal territory. On the first listen I found myself hearing touches which reminded me of Doro, Blind Guardian, Savatage and Sabaton amongst others. There is nothing groundbreaking here and there isn't meant to be. What a band like this is about is sticking to the well loved parameters of the power metal genre and hoping the songs and riffs are good enough to make them stand out.
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This album does cover all the basics off well, there are slow songs and fast double bass drum anthems, epic guitar solos, maiden-like twin lead guitar breaks, screaming yet soulful vocals and crunching riffs all delivered in a seamlessly put together wall of heavy metal sound.
The production lets the side down a bit by lacking some real bottom end punch and I didn't find myself paying a lot of attention to the concept about some woman named Julia but there is some great metal here to be enjoyed like the pounding yet melodic 'We Are Many' with it's chantalong chorus and soaring lead guitar and the ambitious mixed rhythms of 'Mark Of The Horned One' with it's catchy guitar hook and furious chorus.
The playing is impeccable really with some great old fashioned lead guitar work(no shredding here) and some really interesting drum arrangements. Marta Gabriel holds her own on the guitar and vocally she hits the right notes for a metal album of this style. This isn't really a female fronted band in presentation but a solid metal band who happens to have a female singer and guitarist and it works fine that way. I'm not sure that the cover of Riot's 'Thundersteel' is a good idea though as it kind of marks them as being happy to be a second division metal band.
Verdict: This is an extremely competent metal album. It doesn't really have anything new to say or anything radical to show it's moving the genre one way or another. It just is what it is, an out and out traditional heavy metal album with some great playing and some pretty good songs. If you're in the mood to find something new to bang your head to and flash your horns at this could be just what you're looking for. I hope releasing it on Friday 13th December brings them the luck they're looking for!
1. Zeta Reticuli
2. Voices In My Head
3. Julia Is Possessed
4. Fight Evil With Evil
5. Mark Of The Horned One
6. Why Can't You Listen?
7. You Will Die You Will Burn
8. We Are Many
9. Prophet Of The End
CD bonus track:
10. Thundersteel (RIOT cover song)
Marta Gabriel- vocals, guitars
Andy Wave- guitars
Michael Badocha- bass