Monday, January 3, 2011

Crimson Fire - Metal Is Back (2010)

You don't say?

I'm going to give Crimson Fire the benefit of the doubt and believe that the title to their debut album was meant to refer to their chosen style of traditional heavy/power metal. The genre has, in fact, seen a rather large upsurge in popularity of late, riding on the shoulders of bands like White Wizzard who do a fair job of emulating better bands that had existed in decades prior, which their fans seem to largely have missed...despite the relative ease of accessing just about any audio material ever pressed to the medium. Nonetheless, when compiled with the band's cheesy, 'boobs out' artwork and relative lack of anything unique or impressive in their songwriting, it's hard to view the unfortunate choice as anything but tasteless.

Crimson Fire are yet another in a vast field of musicians who possess all of the building blocks required for successful melodic power metal, but don't seem ready yet to apply them into the effective song craft of their influences. Firewind this is not, despite the similar handle, but a rather standardized crop of melodic anthems that neither impress nor offend the sensibilities. In particular, I'd single out the vocalist Johnny B. for having a clear set of pipes that remind me of everything from Riot to all manner of NWOBHM bands. They don't quite emulate any of the contemporaries, and as a result, there's some potential here, though his escalating choruses are rarely memorable. Also, the guitars are adequate, evoking some mystique in the leads, but they're just lacking an original enough set of riffs to stand out from so many others in Europe. Tracks like "Crimson Fire", "Let There Be War" (nice shriek near the end) and "Midnight Strike" are probably the most effective, but even these just don't warrant a repeat listen.

Yeah, once you get past the cover and titles ("Born 4 Metal"...what?), Crimson Fire do have the airiness of melody and the verse/chorus components to prevent them from completely sucking, but they might want to grab themselves a manager or try to take what they're writing a little more seriously. Manowar this is not, and the entire 'metal' cliche in of itself is not really enough to satisfy even the most jaded listener, so why not vomit forth a little gumption and ambition? It's obvious this Greek band put a little effort into their songs, unique or not, and they sound like a reasonable approximation of Mystic Prophecy, Running Wild, Stratovarius, and another pretty average band from their country, Wolfcry, but Metal is Back seems so barren of any interesting ideas and motives that even the cohesion of the musicians suffers. This isn't bad, but they can likely do better. Far better.

Verdict: Indifference [5.25/10]

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