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Crimson Glory - Transcendence CD (album) cover


Crimson Glory


Progressive Metal

4.05 | 164 ratings

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3 stars Two things have to be said before discussing this particular album: the first is that it is not in fact the revolutionary hidden-gem historical masterpiece of metal that it is sometimes portrayed as; and second, I find it beyond comprehension that Crimson Glory found their way into the Progarchives before Iron Maiden. Highly irregular selection criteria in my opinion!

I’m not much of a fan of metal in general, but the masked marauders of Crimson Glory do the genre mostly proud with this offering. These guys were from the United States, Florida I think, but they were mostly a second-class citizen in the metal community back then. Their work has largely stood the test of time pretty well, and most metal heads that I know acknowledge these guys as somewhat elevated in stature in the annals of metal history, so this album has some standing as a seminal metal work.

The opening track “Lady of Winter” kicks off the album with a nice bang, and for those who haven’t heard the band before Midnight’s voice is a shocking but pleasant treat. This guy sold his soul to someone to get a voice like that – he enters shriek zone to get to some of the high notes, but manages to do so with both a power and grace that sets him apart from most of his contemporaries and is much more melodic than just about any of the metal larynxes that came after. The rest of the song is mostly shredding and some haphazard slight, staccato tempo changes, well executed but really nothing I hadn’t heard years before from bands like Maiden, Black Sabbath, and Rainbow.

Jon Drenning shows on “Red Sharks”, as with pretty with much every track, that he sets the pace for the band as opposed to drummer Dana Burnell who is adequate at best. More rapid-fire shredding, this time with Midnight leaning more toward shrieking than singing. The rap-metal backing vocals are really just a distraction.

Midnight’s vocals on the more mellow “Painted Skies” are dead-on in tone and emotion, although again the weak drum work is a bit of a detractor. I have this song on several of my traveling compilations and it’s a great tune for the open road. I do wonder though how many times I have heard the lyric “spread your wings, you can fly” on a metal album – it’s kind of clichéd.

“Masque of the Red Death” is a remarkably melodic track considering it exists on a metal album. This is an Edgar Allen Poe theme, right? Midnight shatters glass a few times with some nut-crushing vocal gyrations here – very impressive, probably just to prove he can.

“In Dark Places” bears a fair resemblance to early Rainbow, particularly the tempo and tense guitar work. Midnight’s voice isn’t quite the same as Ronnie James Dio’s, but his timbre at least is quite similar. Dana Burnell can’t hold a candle to Cozy Powell of course, but enough about that. This one rambles on for a good seven minutes, but honestly this song is more flash than substance. The lyrics are about a mystic dark maiden beckoning her man to the dark side or something, whatever. Lots of shredding, sinister mood and all, but this theme has been done by just about every metal band at least once.

“Where Dragons Rule” is probably the most cohesive work on the album, with Burnell playing well within his limits on a pretty simple tempo. More of the stratosphere vocal gymnastics here as well, and plenty of senseless shredding. I have to wonder if this was filler since the lyrics are mystic of sorts (well, it’s about dragons anyway), but actually kind of silly – “we kill for the dragon, we have no reason: mission – kill!”.

“Lonely” is kind of “Painted Skies” with different lyrics and a slightly more complex tempo, but otherwise a pretty forgettable song.

“Burning Bridges” has some nice guitar picking to start it off, and a pretty plain bass line, but the riff that picks things up a couple minutes in gives this one a nice feel. The lyrics are yet another chick-I-dig-who-is-breaking-my-heart song, pretty boring stuff after you’ve heard it a thousand times before. Guys who write songs about their love lives should not be held up as progressive artists.

Once across the burning bridge our protagonist finds himself in the “Eternal World”, the great beyond “where time has no meaning and reality is dreaming”. Right. Probably the best drum work on the album at least. Some steamy guitar work toward the end also make this worth a listen, despite the weak lyrical message.

The title track closes the album, and starts off with a quick few shreds, but turns into something resembling a metal ballad. This is Crimson’s version of “(Don’t Fear) the Reaper”, only the mellow version. Drenning and Ben Jackson deliver some creative guitar work, especially toward the end, making this a very listenable song as long as you aren’t looking for anything life-changing messages or anything. The album ends on kind of a hackneyed note:

“Fear not the reaper's blade, it does not mean the end…. It never really ends”.

Crimson Glory were a band that perpetuated a number of stereotypes about metal music in general, and adapted several trademarks from those who came before them, from the painted faces (KISS) to the dragons and ladies lyrics (Rainbow) to the shrieking vocals (Dio) to the power ballad (etc. etc.). They do them all pretty well, but don’t really do anything uniquely their own. This is a good album if you are a metal head, not so much if you are a fan looking for excellent progressive music. Three stars, mostly for Midnight’s impressive vocals range and the overall melodic feel of the album, but don't bother unless you're really into metal and dig that 80s sound.


ClemofNazareth | 3/5 |


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