Crystal Viper - Tales Of Fire And Ice

Crystal Viper - Tales Of Fire And Ice

(CD/LP, AFM Records, 2019)

CRYSTAL VIPER have managed to become a reliable band among the traditional Heavy Metal circles by releasing albums with impressive consistency. With this in mind, it made total sense to get “Tales Of Fire And Ice” on vinyl even before having the proper listening sessions. I mean, once you have established a certain level of trust with a specific Metal band, there are no changes or “trying new things” that could potentially destroy this. Be careful though, because I am not saying that once a band has created a certain sound and gathered a specific fanbase should keep doing the same thing until the sun dies...

Before explaining myself, I would like to say how much I appreciate the band and the management decision to change the album’s cover artwork because the first version was terrible. This means that CRYSTAL VIPER listened to the fans, perfectly recognizing that, in Metal, the band and the fans are an extended family. Yeah, what I am saying may sound cheesy to some, but this is how I grew up and how I (still) like to perceive the Metal scene and the bands I like. And trust me, I have stopped following bands simply because I stopped feeling that special connection. By the way, the new version of the cover artwork fits the title and the album like a tailored suit.

The slow intro with the sounds of rainfall quickly set out the atmosphere that feels darker as compared to previous CRYSTAL VIPER albums. There is an evil feeling breathing through the guitar leads laying down the tone for the entire “Tales Of Fire And Ice”. “Still Alive” kicks in with a nice almost Teutonic Metal guitar rhythm before letting Marta deliver the vocal melodies that will stick to mind from the get-go. The aforementioned dark elements sneak through the keyboards that after carefully listening gave me a MERCYFUL FATE flavor although I know this may sound bizarre to some. Power Metal enters the spotlight with guitars and the hearty drum-kick action in “Crystal Sphere” and I am sure this will become a constant in upcoming CRYSTAL VIPER shows. The vocal melodies also shine here bringing along some impressive diversity with Marta hitting the entire singing range at ease. You may find this one flirting with Euro Power Metal until the nice groovy part dives headfirst to traditional Metal gracefully inviting you to mosh along. On the same neighborhood is the kind of galloping “Under Ice” and perfect for live shows bass driven part during which the guitars take a step backwards, letting the vocals to lead the way. “One Question” is a fast banger starting off with some solid almost ACCEPT-like rhythm guitars and high pitched screams, making headbanging a top priority before sparing you during the chorus that requires your fist in the air and your loud singing-along.

I am a sucker for good lyrics and this includes telling a true or an imaginary story or just dealing with real life issues and in this album my interest gravitated towards “Tomorrow Never Comes (Dyatlov Pass)”. That name was ringing a bell but I was not sure why (age does that) but all-seeing-eye aka the internet revealed the story behind this Pass. The song hits all the right spots as far as Euro Power Metal is considered and I am happy to report that the Kiske era of HELLOWEEN comes to mind. Once again, Marta has done an amazing job with her vocals, switching between aggression and melody serving the main character’s defensive / fighting character and the anthemic nature of the song that climaxes with the catchy ‘oooohs’. I am extremely curious to see what Marta’s take on this incident is and I have already noted to ask her. The “Ice” closes with the Power ballad-esque “Tears Of Arizona” that creates a musical antithesis with the previous song but at the same its sad / moody atmosphere is enough to compensate for the slower bpms.

The icing on the tracklist is a cover song that is different between the vinyl and the CD editions; out of pure luck I prefer the vinyl bonus that is on I-TEN’s “Alone” or if you are ignorant like I was HEART’s “Alone”. Maybe my bias steams from the fact that knowing the HEART version I found Marta’s vocals extremely fitting.

To me, this album feels like the most complete CRYSTAL VIPER release, having achieved two things; it checks all the band’s characteristics (catchy melodies, riff-based structures, awesome double guitars), and then has a nice sinister atmosphere (love the oxymoron here), adding depth to the compositions. On top of these, stand Marta’s vocals that I believe have more diversity compared to past CRYSTAL VIPER records. Stay away from useless Xmas presents and stick with vinyls - they last longer and are way better than jewelry...

8/10 


Links:

www.CrystalViper.Com
www.FaceBook.Com/CrystalViperOfficial


Tracklist:

01. Prelude
02. Still Alive
03. Crystal Sphere
04. Bright Lights
05. Neverending Fire
06. Interlude
07. Under Ice
08. One Question
09. Tomorrow Never Comes (Dyatlov Pass)
10. Tears Of Arizona
11. Dream Warriors


Lineup:

Marta Gabriel - Vocals, Guitar, Keyboards
Andy Wave - Guitar
Eric Juris - Guitar
Blaze J. Grygiel - Bass
Tomek Danczak - Drums