Polish heavy metal hopefuls, Crystal Viper, are back with the release of Legends, their follow up to the mighty Metal Nation of 2009. The band, formed in 2003, already has two very impressive albums under their belt and forged some mighty large sabaton they themselves weren’t quite able to fill this time around.
In their own right, it wouldn’t be far fetched to call Crystal Viper legends. Their 2007 album, The Curse of the Crystal Viper may very well have restored my faith in modern heavy metal. 2009’s Metal Nation was icing on that cake. So my expectations may have ran unrealistically high for Legends. After the intro track, the first thing I noticed, and something that stuck with me through my entire listening experience, was that The Viper had lost some of its trademark ferocity. The tracks are still riff-tastic, still galloping homage to heavy metal’s glory days and, if this had been the first Crystal Viper record I’d heard, I think it still would have managed to win me over immediately.
Legends consists of 11 tracks, the first being a spoken word into and the last a genuinely impressive cover of Accept’s TV Wars the band managed to make their own. In between the “covers” lie six rip-roaring, take no prisoner tracks chalk full of the trademark Viper riffs, galloping sections, and solos. I don't love to make comparisons with other bands but I think those of you out there who have found enjoyment in the sounds of The Lord Weird Slough Feg, Omen, or Warlock (to a lesser extent) could easily find this record to your liking. There is an air of folly in what these bands do and though stripped of some of their early speed and balls out approach, the tracks are still biting and melodic as ever and Crystal Viper’s Legends remains a fun listen.
The drum work leaves little to be desired, perfectly accenting a funky bass and crunchy, bold guitar while Marta Gabriel’s vocals shine though in an oft layered, always epic way ala Doro Pesch. Inserted about halfway though the album is the track Sydonia Bork, a slowed down anthem reminiscent of Warlock’s Für Immur, this record could scarcely be called complete without. The rest of the album is really where the band starts to get their footing and the initial shock of a less-aggressive Crystal Viper subsides and you’ll give way to pumping your fist and banging your head.
The problem remains those pesky expectations; ironically set forth by the band it’s self.
Though Crystal Viper is still mastering (and perhaps will someday be masters of) a heavy metal sound that will never tire, on this record they sound… tired. Like they turned down the barbarity of the previous records from eleven to an eight. I still think that Crystal Viper is going places; I still think this record has enough great moments to perk any traditional heavy metal fans interest, but I also think they may have hit a wall they’ll need to break down in order to continue to impress.
Compared to say, The Curse…: 7
Highlight Tracks: The Ghost Ship, Sydonia Bork, and Night of Sin