Crises - Balance

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

There are bands that release the expected great album every time out. Bands such as Evergrey fail to disappoint their metal fans. There are also bands of which a great deal is expected of and they release an audio turd upon the world that requires disinfectant to the speakers. Then there are those bands who've been long forgotten only to rise up like an iron fist from the seemingly bottomless abyss of prog metal obscurity and hit you square in the face. This is the kind of album that Crises, a German band cut from the same cloth as Dreamscape, Vanden Plas and AtmOsfear, has unleashed on an unsuspecting world. After a nearly six-year absence, Crises has finally released this behemoth of a melodic prog metal album to the unsuspecting masses, an album that was on the shelf for a very long time. While Balance will draw obvious and expected comparisons, they tend to have influences beyond the standard German prog scene. I hear equal parts Parallels-era Fates Warning and Mind's Eye in this collection of tunes.

Melody is certainly the dominant force with Balance, a characteristic all too easily forgotten in a world of prog metal wankery. Songs such as "In A Jar," "With Angel's Wings" and "Rain" show a band that has put aside a bit of their need to show off and just write a good song. You can tell these guys can really play and are capable of far more when it comes to complexity of the arrangements, yet they don't have to sacrifice the prog for the song. This album is along the same lines of Conception's Flow in song structure and complexity. Much like Flow, guitarist Ondrej Hurbanic has written deceivingly challenging melodies, leads and riffs that seamlessly weave the progressive with the melodic and created music that spans many musical genres.

Vocalist Russell Gray has shown a huge growth in the recording of this album and is showing a depth and range previously unheard from him. His newly found ability to show emotion and passion as added another level of depth to these songs and separates them from the standard fare. Though lacking the tone and perfect pitch of Ray Alder, Russell's vocal melodies sound like something that would have written in the Parallels era, giving them a slightly dated feel, but not distractingly so. The vocals and the vocalist perfectly match the songs.

The production and sound quality seems to be lacking in the punch department. It may be my headphones, but I had to turn up the volume all the way and kick the bass up to hear everything. What I hear sounds very impressive and crisp. I just have volume issues. Hopefully it's just me because I've not heard anyone else comment on this. The guitar has a polished, compressed sound reminiscent of the tone found on DC Cooper's solo disc, combining clarity with aggression. Considering they do not have a full time keyboardist, the keys on this album perfectly mesh with the rest of the instrumentation and enhance the overall feel of each song. I'd say everything production wise sounds great except for the mastered level. I may need a new CD player with headphones, so take this last paragraph for what it is.

It's a travesty and a black eye of the progressive rock/metal community that this album sat on the shelf for years without any labels putting it out. Crises has put a lot of themselves into the writing and recording of this album, and the pride and hard work shows on each and every track. By combining the abilities of both writing intricate and melodic songs and successfully translating their emotions into music, Crises has completely arisen from obscurity and put out one of the best melodic prog albums of the year. Congratulations are in order for Progman Records for realizing the genius and untapped potential of this band and adding to what was already a banner year for prog metal and congratulations to Crises for writing and recording an album that will stay with the listener for a very long time. This is an album that will satisfy any fan of the aforementioned bands and melodic prog metal aficionados alike. The catchy and infectious melodies transcend musical barriers and add a serious boost to a strong progressive 2004.

[This review originally appeared May 2004 at the ProgPower Online review site -ed.]
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: December 8th 2004
Reviewer: Scott Pierce
Artist website:
Hits: 856
Language: english


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