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Crimson Glory - Transcendence CD (album) cover


Crimson Glory


Progressive Metal

4.00 | 171 ratings

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4 stars Crimson Glory's "Transcendence" is one of the early prog metal albums coming in at the end of the 80s decade. As such it suffers from the 80s hangover but still manages to captivate with some masterful tracks that are incredibly complex and intelligently structured. One of the most dynamic tracks is 'Eternal World' with amazing speed picking, screaming lead solos and unbelievable vocals from iconic screamer, Midnight. The tempo changes and melody are enhanced by accomplished fast guitar riffage and atmospherics.

The power metal of 'Lady of winter' is a dynamic opener with a killer riff and excellent vocals. This was the sound of 80s metal when metal really took off and spawned some of the most amazing bands such as Metallica, Iron Maiden, Slayer and Megadeth. These bands dominated the 80s but Crimson Glory fell below the radar for me although I was heavily into metal at the time. The band are definitely very accomplished musicians, the lead guitar is incredible by Jon Drenning, backed up by the rhythm guitar of Ben Jackson. The rhythm machine of bass from Jeff Lords and percussion by Dana Burnell are never less than technical.

There are the obligatory acoustic power ballad segments such as on the opening of 'Burning Bridges'. All metal albums seemed to have these moments. The lead guitar work on this is excellent with soaring passionate string bends. The solo at the end is worth waiting round for, fast arpeggios and speed picking merged with a steady tempo.

Another highlight is 'In Dark Places', one of the longer songs at 7 minutes, with Midnight sounding emotional and passionate. This one admittedly sounds like the type of metal of the year 1988, along with Megadeth's "So Far, So Good, So What", Helloween's "Keeper Of The Seven Keys", Queensryche's "Operation Mindcrime", Fate's Warning's "No Exit", Iron Maiden's "Seventh Son of a Seventh son", Metallica's "And Justice for All", and Slayer's "South Of Heaven". As you can see it was definitely a year of metal with some of the best albums coming out one by one. The template was to present shredding, melodic riffs, amazing lead breaks and powerhouse vocals. Midnight was certainly one of the best vocalists but he was in good company with the likes of Dickenson, and Tate. Even Christian metal sounded like this, with the high vocals and shredding guitars.

What made Crimson Glory stand out within the maelstrom of metal that dominated in this era? The intricacy and technicality of the music was a key factor. The album features strong prog elements that would bring something new to the scene. Listen to 'Masque of the Red Death' for some technical guitar riffs and especially Burnell's sporadic drumming. In the half time feel the guitars blaze with soaring twin lead harmonics, until Drenning takes over with screaming lead wizardry. The pitchy singing is vibrant and Midnight is revered in metal history for this type of singing.

'Painted Skies' begins with acoustics, Midnight singing melancholy lyrics, "spread your wings, you can fly, But the dove is never free, In painted skies that shade the colour of your dream, Only nightmares are real, Confusion conceals the only reason for the feelings you can't hide." It sounds a bit like Queensryche, namely 'Lady In Black'. The melodic sound is compelling, but it is the guitars on this that lift it, especially the towering lead break and more aggressive riffing.

Another softer balladic song is 'Lonely' with nice harmonics and vocals. The sadness is wrapped in well written lyrics about unrequited love; "She awakens from a dream to a silent room, where shadows speak of memories, Another sleepless night afraid to face the day." The song builds into a heavier riff though maintains the melancholy style. 'Red Sharks' is a faster shredder with more aggressive vocals. The lyrics are very anti communist; "Give us your freedom, we'll give you hell, Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil, Glory to red sharks, Answer to your red dictators, Feeding from your dreams, Cast into a sea of red sharks." The faster Crimson Glory is irresistible but there are dated anthemic vocals that could be excised. The guitars make up for it though particularly when the lead break crunches in with speedy licks, duel hammer ons and power riffing. The technical riff at 3:40 that gallops is one of my favourites on the album.

'Where Dragons Rule' is worth a mention too especially for Midnight's high octave screeches. It even reminds me of Judas Priest style riffing, very steady and precise. It sounds a bit Spinal Tappish with the bombastic male chorus vocal yells and overall lyrics, but it holds well due to incredible lead breaks and vocals.

The album is hailed as a masterpiece of metal by many and is highly revered for the late Midnight's legacy and overall metal technique. Midnight died of a kidney and liver failure at the age of 47 in 2008. One of the first prog metal albums, "Transcendence" must rank highly as an influence to prog metal to come in the 90s decade.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 4/5 |


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