Crises - Broken Glass


Year of Release: 1998
Label: Angular Records
Catalog Number: SKAN 8210.AR
Format: CD
Total Time: 67:55:00

This is just one more of the great, exciting discs to come out of nowhere and bring that pleased look to my face, as I quietly ponder over how many bands are out there like this one that are yet to be discovered.

At almost 70 minutes, I'm glad to see more bands starting to make a statement by putting out long gems, especially when this kind of music derserves as much of the disc time as possible. I won't even guess where this band is from, as a country is not listed anywhere on the disc, but my keen senses tell me that their e-mail address, which ends in .de, hails from Germany, so my best guess is that is the place of origin. At first listen, I wanted to say that this band reminds me of the hard rock version of Superior. Nowhere near the heaviness of Superior, but certainly the song structures remind me of some that band, along with the guitar style which sounds similar.

However, upon deeper listening, weeks later, I want to say that this sounds like a cross between heavy neo-prog, and prog metal. The guitar drives the sound, but there are tons of keyboards found throughout the disc, played in a neo-prog sort of way, as in many layers of sound ala IQ, Iluvatar. The music is very progressive, yet melodic. Nice acoustic guitars, lush strings, super clear production ( with minor flaws ), a good singer, and LONG songs round out this overlooked piece of music.

THE STYLE

As stated, I'd call this a cross between some neo-prog bands, and a hard rock styled version of Superior. The music is very progressive, with a neo-prog sound although a bit on the heavier side of that genre. The sound is guitar driven, but backed by a wall of keyboards. The band really covers the spectrum of variety, going from a nice, heavy crunchy sound, to a lush, keyboard / acoustic guitar sound, to some very progressive music to the basic song structures and back again. The band never stays still long enough to figure out which direction they will take next. It's quite an interesting combination of style they use to get their sound across, and it's definitely a symbol of what the word "prog" stands for, at least musically. The many tempo changes, different song patterns rolled into one keep this interesting without ever losing the listener. Don't expect to tap your foot to the same beat for long though, this band is bent on keeping the listener off guard throughout the disc, and in an enjoyable way I might add.

Consider their masterpiece song, called "Crises - Descent Into Paradise." Clocking in at 20:00, it gives you an idea of not only the talent of this band, but in their song writing confidence. They could have easily opted to break this up into 4-5 smaller songs, but chose to defy normality. If the intro to this song doesn't sound like something Superior might play, I don't know what would. Anyone who ever wants to check out what this band is all about, have someone tape this one song for you, and your purchase decision will be made on the spot. Interestingly enough, the band uses very little soloing, and chooses to focus on the songwriting and lyrics, of which there are many. This band could write a mini-book, their songs are laced with lyrics, and seem bent on dragging the listener into their songs, instead of solely on their music. Any fan who loves to sit in a room with a lone light on, and read the lyrics sheet to their favorite music will have a field day with this one.

THE BAND:

Vocals, guitar, drums, bass, keyboards. If you look at the storm bringing music that has emerged from Germany as of late, and in the past, you'll find this complement of players in most of them. From Vanden Plas, to Atmosfear, Gone, Ivanhoe, Centaur and so on, they all seem to use this complement of instruments, and much to fans delight. There is no one standout player in this band, as each again combine to create a thick, rich sound rather than showcase one particular instrument. Yes, the sound is guitar driven, but as I said, you won't hear blazing solos, or crazy drum runs, or wild keyboard flamboyancy. You will hear several layers of guitar sounds, like heavy, crunchy, acoustic, dreamy and some interesting solo work not akin to the norm. You will hear many layers of keyboards including strings, synths, and some piano. All played at the same time I might add. As you might guess, the production is superb, but I'll get to that later. The drums are executed in typical prog fashion, never staying still long enough to allow you to tap your foot, but changing beats routinely and with ease. The bass player keeps right along with the changes, effortlessly and almost too perfect as it is hard to pick out the bass lines as they mesh in exact sync with it's counterparts. This band is a prime example of what prog metal is all about. A bit on the lighter side of metal itself, but this thought will quickly pass if you are into what melodic prog is all about.

THE VOCALS:

I've heard several complaints about this singer. Not in as much as his singing ability, but in his tonal qualities. While he is not your typical, high pitched, operatic prog metal singer, he is a mid-range singer, with a lower than normal tone for this type of music. I don't mean deep tone, but it sounds like his voice is the same when he sings as when he talks, if that makes sense. Not sure if Russell Gray is a German singer, but his name and accent-less voice tells me he is not a native of Europe. If you can imagine a storyteller type singer, who has to bring a ton of lyrics to the listener, this is the type of singer he is; seems like he is singing from the perspective of someone who is trying to tell a story, rather than on his singing ability. I had no problem at all with his voice, and in fact, it even reminded me that he sounds like he sings for a neo-prog band, as I've heard some voices in that genre that sound like his. Overall, he stays within his range, never forcing the words, and he sings with conviction.

THE PRODUCTION:

Simply superb. To bring this much music forward all at once, someone has to know what they are doing in the studio. In fact, the band takes credit for their own recording, and call the place where they recored the music in their "practiceroom." This is amazing considering what you get for sound out of this disc. Walls of sound, mostly from layered guitars and keyboards, dominate throughout the disc. There are many vocals harmonies included, and you can hear each layer clearly and precisely. The guitars are also clean and crisp, as are the keyboards. The bass is deep, clean, and if it weren't for the great sync between the players, you'd be hard pressed to hear the bass lines. The vocals are way up front; and I still get the impression this was intentional to bring the lyrics forward. It would be somewhat depressing to have written this small book and not being able to hear the words. The drums are exactly in the mix where they should be, and I have one small complaint about the snare drum sound, which I found to be a bit lacking in punch, but this is the case most of the time, and it's a sound in which I will always accept, but never understand. The rest of the drums sound great, and it's great to hear the high hat tapping in the background with so much music being played in front of it. You won't find too many bands that can get sound like this out of themselves. German seems to be the garden of great sound, and this band continues in that tradition. Kudos !!!

THE COMMENTS

If you like your prog metal laced with keyboards, layered guitars, vocal harmonies, and a small book to read along with, you will like this band. Also, if you like some neo-prog mixed in with your metal, this will do the trick for you too. Again, the singer is not your typical, operatic with a high pitched voice, but he certainly sings well and sounds good, and I don't have a problem with it at all. This is certainly top notch progressive music, and done in a very tasteful and melodic manner. If any of you have heard the band XerXes, this band seems to bear some resemblance to the prog rock aspect of that band. Overall, this is still prog metal, only at times reminding of neo-prog because of the lush, soft melodies that the band interjects into their music. This disc comes highly recommended.


Tracklisting:
Save Me (6:25) / The Blame (8:22) / Am I Awake (6:30) / Crises - Descent Into Paradise (19:43) / The Only One (5:24) / In My Sleep (7:51) / Last Candle (6:18) / Drops Of Rain (6:22)

Musicians:
Russel Gray - vocals
Ondrej Hurbanic - guitars
Pavel Hurcik - bass
Marko Brenzinger - keyboards
Thomas Abts - drums and percussion

Discography:
Crises (1995)
Broken Glass (1998)
Balance (2004)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin DE

Added: July 25th 1999
Reviewer: Larry "LarryD" Daglieri

Artist website: www.crises.de
Hits: 803
Language: english

  

[ Back to Reviews Index | Post Comment ]