Crystal Viper – The Curse of the Crystal Viper – 4.5/5
The dying art of traditional style heavy metal is one that more often sees a simple rehashing of old idea’s, and whilst this is nothing radical in its style, is a breath of fresh air to a genre that has seen a distinct lack of acts in recent years that live up to the legends from where the genre originated.
But this isn’t just a mere tribute album, this is fully independent and realised concept album. Following the death of a legendary warrior ‘The Last Axeman,’ the vampires and the forces of darkness have begun to attack the protagonists village, resulting in the decision to embark to the ‘island of the silver skull’ to meet with the witch that resides there, and discover a way to rid the land of the darkness that engulfs it. And whilst it sounds like this could easily become confusing, it all serves as a backdrop for the completely immersive sound presented here.
The drums are aggressive and clearly heard, providing plenty of variation to the sound, and the bass whilst a bit quiet, too can be made out creating the deep and thick tone present in the sound. The guitars succeed in providing hard hitting riffs from start to finish, allowing the vocals free reign, and clearly demonstrate their capabilities with the ancient art of guitar soloing, where speed and style combine in an explosive manner fitting to the track at hand.
But all this would serve to create no more than an excellent tribute band if not the wonderful vocal work presented. Did Rob Halford (Judas Priest) have a daughter without my hearing about it? Equally capable of both a powerful thundering roar, and a soft emotional touch, she’ll soon have you nodding your head and singing along (in fact, I have received warnings from other members of my flat mate in this regard). Her ability to vary pitch to create a melody, and the stylistic diversity she is capable of lends an impressive finish to this alright stellar line-up.
From the more aggressive tracks to the ballads, the start to the finish, nothing ever lets up, it never wanes, and even on repeated listens the captivating story entrances you all over again. Every time I re-visit this album I’m blown away by the power and energy presented, this isn’t just a tribute to the greats, this has matched them. Only a few hairs away from perfection, this is old-school Heavy Metal back to the way it should be done.