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Crystal Phoenix - Crystal Phoenix CD (album) cover


Crystal Phoenix


Prog Folk

2.79 | 15 ratings

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3 stars At the core of so much progressive rock is an adventurous spirit, shunning reality in favour of larger than life fantasy, in much the same way as fantastic literature and science fiction. As fans of the style, we welcome themes that transport us into a less mundane reality than our own or even that of the rich and famous, and are quite fine with the "pretentiousness" tag that such excursions invite. It's a badge we wear with courage and honour, much like the epic heroes who do not flinch in commitment to duty against the forces of darkness. Grandiose as the story lines may be, even spanning multiple releases, the productions need not be lavish, and in fact rarely can be given the financial constraints of the modern era.

The works of Myriam Sagenwells Saglimbeni, or CRYSTAL PHOENIX manage to conjure a majesty that is disproportionate to their budget. This debut is barely 30 minutes when stripped of its "bonus" cuts, but manages to bridge some of the Japanese prog of the 1980s to ancient folk and symphonic yardsticks of the 1970s. In its quieter moments, as in the harp enriched "474 Anno Domini" and the acoustic guitar and flute led hymn "Somewhere Nowhere Battle", it presages BLACKMORE's NIGHT, but the heavier pieces with crunching organ and rhythm and lead guitar unleash far more aggression than that band ever would. Myriam's voice can accommodate both styles occasionally in the same movement, notably on "Heaven to a Flower" and "Dark Shadow". The compromises that she makes tend to be in favor of overall simplicity and sense of mystery, which was wise given the operating environment.

It's always bittersweet to hear albums like this, true labors of love that reach for "classic status" but fall short of those lofty ideals for reasons that are largely beyond the artists' control. Recommended for fans of fan fantasy and folk with a few shards of shred woven in. Crystal clear?

kenethlevine | 3/5 |


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