Blending genres is something I like to hear. It can be interesting to realise that two musical styles weren’t as far apart as I might have thought. I never really thought Power Metal and Melodic Death Metal to be exactly polar opposites – after all, sometimes it’s only the vocals that distinguish some of the quicker forms of both genres. For instance, swap the vocalists of Dragonforce and Children Of Bodom and you have a crossover. Combine the two? You have Crimson Shadows. The melodies, clean-sung parts and frantic drumming are pure Dragonforce, the verses and rhythm guitar are Bodom, the lead-work could be either (and as a big bearded fly in the ointment, the extreme vocals are a bit more in Amon Amarth territory).
But does it work? Well, first of all you have to like these sides of both genres to be fair – Soilwork fans probably won’t like this, and on the flip-side neither will fans of Primal Fear. Many Power Metallers don’t like extreme vocals (I personally enjoy whatever vocal is on offer as long as it’s done well, fits the music and works). And in a band that could be called Children Of Dragonforce, it’s all executed with precision and professionalism. It’s a style that really hasn’t been nailed down this well as far as I know and with the right publicity I reckon Crimson Shadows have wide appeal amongst many of the young Metallers out there.
It’s not all Bodom-force (well, actually, it mostly is) – there are parts of ‘Maidens Call’ that remind me of Into Eternity (before the solo section that is very Dragonforce) and there’s bits of ‘Heroes Among Us’ and especially ‘Dawn Of Vengeance’ (I think a mate of mine dated her!!) that sound like Skyfire, but Dragons of Bodom usually win out in the end. In truth the dominating factor in the music is definitely Dragonforce as most of the songs have their galloping tempo trademark, but I was enjoying combining their names (I’ll stop now…). And enjoying the album too. There’s nothing ground-breaking on offer here once you get past the Metal style combination, but every song delivers it’s full potential, with no energy or attitude spared. Every musician playing out of their skin – there’s even a kick-ass bass solo on the ten minute epic ‘Moonlight Skies and Bloody Ties’ (a song which is one of the major highlights on the album, with it’s excellent lead guitar-led closing section).
I suspect a fair few readers will have only got to this point in the review out of shear horror or dread that a band like this actually exists – well, it does and there will be plenty of people that have been waiting for just such a combination of styles (even if they didn’t know it). It had to be done well and by a band with the talent to back it up and Crimson Shadows are just such a band.
(7/10 Andy Barker)