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Music Existence 11 August 2015
There is no doubting the bewildering, dazzling quality of Crimson Chrysalis. They are a kindred spirit to Nightwish and several other bands that merge graceful atmospheric ambience into bludgeoning, theatrical metal abandon that satiates a very diverse listening palette. Quite simply, this group doesn’t sound much like their contemporaries because the spread influences covers a lot more ground than similar minded artists. Helmed by the towering, crystalline caterwaul of lead vocalist Rene van den Berg, you will find that sounds on this record shift and change places more than a mirage deep in the desert.
From ballads to film scores to lushly choreographed metal, it becomes quickly difficult to nail down the style. The album has no shortage of tunes which features majestic, beefy guitars doing head-to-head battle with the type of careful work Mozart peddled in his prime. It only takes on quick listen of opener “Soul Stalker” to hear the message loud and clear. In fact the introductory trio including “Surrender” and “Elegy” mingles loud/soft dynamics, quaking tempo morphs and classically trained instrumentation into a stew that really has no peers as far as genre is taken into consideration. Perhaps “Surrender” stands tallest with a standout compositional strength and its ability to go from a ballroom swirl to gargantuan metal hooks all in the same breath. You can hardly mention a song without calling attention to Rene van den Berg’s pouncing hooks. Her voice goes from a whisper to a scream at the drop of a dime and there is never a dip in the emotional impact that highlights her melodies.
“Infinity” and “Burning Fire with Fire” pack more metal punches in the grand tradition of Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. The material isn’t doesn’t have quite the menace of those legendary acts, but it is plenty loud enough to get the job done. Still, even during the musicians’ heaviest moments, Crimson Chrysalis layer their aural attack with so many various instruments and textures that it never reverts to one dimensional crush tactics ... a skill that is showcase on the piano-laced, gothic melodic showstopper, “Sacred Vow.” This song has the ability to melt you like butter and leave you cooking in the midday sun. Elsewhere softer numbers like “Virgin Death” prove themselves exercises for Rene to paint serene vocal tranquility atop a canvas of downplayed delicacy. It’s rare when a band has the precision to conquer both soft and loud works without losing anything in the transition.
That’s not to say this is a record that you’ll want to take to the library with you. With second half statements like the steadily anchored “Fear” and all-out metal of “The Raven,” there is hardly a lopsided segment to be found. These crushing cuts provide excellent juxtaposition against the serene ripples of “Enlightenment.” Honestly, it’s impossible to name a bad track on the album. The only problem is that sometimes the excesses get to be a little too much and there is so much going on it’s hard to keep track of where the hooks are. That is not to say this is music for easy consumption, but at times it feels like Crimson Chrysalis challenges you TOO much. With that said, this is still a keeper and anyone with a disparate taste in styles should go nuts for the grand work here.
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