Crises - Balance

Year of Release: 2004
Label: ProgMan Records
Catalog Number: n/a
Format: CD
Total Time: 49:23:00

A long, long, time ago in a far away galaxy, a band called Crises released a disc called Broken Glass, which, at the time, was something new and fresh to progressive metal fans. Very few bands fell into the category of prog rock / prog metal styles, and Crises certainly made their impact with this disc, especially with its obligatory 20-minute song called "Crises - Descent Into Paradise," which fans place their fondest memories of in the band. The mixture of prog rock and prog metal had fans of both genres intrigued, and with a vocalist who could more than fit in with a hard rock style band, Crises was well on their way to becoming an instant hit amongst the crossover-genre fans. However, after the glee and initial reaction to the disc started to wear off, and the fans hankered for more, Crises mysteriously disappeared from the scene.

Fast forward six years, and all of sudden Crises has appeared back on the scene with a new disc called Balance, released by the newly formed ProgMan Records. Supposedly, these tunes have been sitting on the shelf for some time, and were about to be put out to pasture when ProgMan Records wisely grabbed a hold of this disc and released it. Balance is aptly named as it really incorporates a semi-complex / melodic / dramatic blend of progressive rock and progressive metal. Few bands can claim this style, and Crises is definitely one of them. Far from the standard / traditional style of German Progressive Metal, the band does have some similarities to bands of their homeland like Tomorrow's Eve, Anguish, and even maybe some Vanden Plas (courtesy of the crunchy guitar sound of Ondrej Hurbanic). Yet, at other times, you get the feeling that the band sounds fresh off a Magna Carta release (remember that label?). It's that combination of both styles that doesn't allow the listener to place the band in any one single category.

Further listens and the deeper one goes into the music of Crises reveals that the engineering of the instruments is certainly the factor that allows Crises to be so flexible and hard to pin down. Ondrej Hurbanic, the guitarist, is clearly pinned down in the prog metal field, with his crunchy power chords that lead and drive most of the songs, along with his metal-style solos appeal to the metal flavor of progressive music. At other times, his flowing acoustic passages and accompaniments show the softer side of his playing. His alter ego has him playing dual roles in the band, and he is responsible for the beefy keyboard sounds that compliment the guitars. Its here that the band seems to go into a more prog rock sound, as the keyboards tend to take on more of the progressive rock style solos and structures. Lead by a plethora of piano, synths and strings, it is here along with the softer acoustic passages that Crises gets its beauty from. In addition, lead vocalist Russell Gray, the only American in the band, sounds like he could fit in with a melodic hard rock band, and gives Crises its accessibility and "songs." His somewhat raspy voice reminds me instantly of Joe Lynn Turner, with the ability to sing as well as tell a story. He usually remains in a mid-range tone, never forcing the notes or trying to reach high notes, which seem un-necessary for this style of music. His harmonies are voiced to perfection and layered nicely, once again reminding me of various hard rock bands that use this style.

The music itself is a heavy / soft combination of progressive metal guitar along side of some atmospheric / prog rock style keyboards, with the aforementioned style of Russell Gray. The song structures are once again a combination of the various styles, which will appeal to fans of a wider audience than normal. Fans of any of those styles should at least check this band out to really hear how a band can crossover into other styles and still remain permanent enough in one of the genres to suit specific flavors. Personally, I prefer the metal style that the band has to offer, along with the melodic complexity that comes from the prog rock style. The band ends the disc with the obligatory 12:00 song "End Of A Rainbow" in which the band truly shows its talent and capabilities. They can and do actually get wild at times, revving up their beats and chops to a much higher pace as if to remind the listener that this band is truly faithful to the genre, and then comes back down to a more casual pace, showing their accessibility. Solos can be frantic at times, controlled at others.

The production is first rate, considering the band recorded the disc without outside help. It's a dry production, which usually means cold to me, but in this case the band has managed to maintain the warmth that always accompanies their music. Instruments are crisp, clean, punchy and separate. The guitar sounds range from the metallic crunch, to the soft acoustic passages, to the soaring solos and each time can be heard perfectly. Drums are tight and not overbearing in the least and the bass, while just a tad back in the mix, are tight and short rather than loud and boomy. The vocals are superbly placed, and never overpowered by the music. Russell Gray's words can be heard clearly throughout the disc without ever being overpowered by the wall of sound that surrounds him.

Crises are back, and it is hoped that this is a sign that the band has found a new energy, a new outlook, and can be the safe in the knowledge that they have been missed. With the release of Balance, it appears that Crises wants to reach a wider audience, and I'm hoping that they succeed and come back soon with a newfound love of the genre and have more in store for us in the future. For now, Balance remains one of the best progressive releases of the year.

Romans Fall / Temptations / In A Jar / After The Love Fades / Subconscious / With Angels Wings / Storms / Rain / End Of A Rainbow

Russell Gray ? vocals
Ondrej Hurbanic - guitars, keyboards
Pavel Hurcik - bass
Thomas Abts ? drums

Broken Glass (1998)
Balance (2004)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin DE

Added: August 8th 2004
Reviewer: Larry "LarryD" Daglieri

Artist website:
Hits: 1690
Language: english


[ Back to Reviews Index | Post Comment ]