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Crimson Sky - Transcendental Trip

Crimson Sky
Transcendental Trip
by Vladimir “Abir” Leonov at 21 June 2015, 1:11 PM

Though their existence is traced back to 1998 – quite simultaneously to the beginnings of plenty of prominent bands of the genre – the Ukrainian CRIMSON SKY hadn’t started releasing material until 2011 with a digital single entitled “Illusive Dream”, the first in a series the most recent of which is “Transcendental Trip” LP which assembles various degrees of Doom, Gothic and Symphonic Metal in a crossroad between - to illustrate, non-exhaustively - DRACONIAN, VIRGIN BLACK or better, HAGGARD.

Opening on a sweet lullaby tune, “Searching For Light” sets the pace for what will extend along the entire record. With the most basic song structure ever possible, the restful Blues Doom tempo comes in contrast with joyful keyboards even though the effect choice isn’t to celebrate - and even took longer than it had to – in addition to it being too raw for the well-developed and mixed remaining instrumentation. On the other hand, the background chords ensured a pillar role and mostly when it switches into a sleek piano all in a so far ideal distribution of volumes until the violin unfairly takes over, yet further along as it progresses the violin/keyboard duo smoothes down into an ethereal echo in harmony with the über-romantic overdubs of clean female vocals taking the whole stuff to whole new dimension of Beauty and the Beast in pair with the growls, enhanced with dramatic orchestral hits.  What also catches the listener’s ear is that one cannot envision this record without its tandem of guitars firmly scaffolding each other until the solo - which was frankly the best thing on the track with a charming Rock tendency. The blend of Doom and Gothic was soothing, but not that impressive and it didn’t really hit the core of any of both.

Things take another path with the grandiose echoed intro of “Split Mind Wraith” - this is in fact what I call an elaborate track. The insertion of a theatrical dialogue added a whole lot with the growls getting deeper and deeper yet you feel that the singer’s real-life clean vocals lie within a tenor range.  The track unleashed a ball of energetic swift tempo intercepted by scattered parking barricades, juggling with intensity, but any other keyboard effects other than a string ensemble, choir or piano is better be avoided. Notice here that this is a hybrid Doom ditching the predicted tempo interval, thus expect an arsenal of two rhythm guitars, a bass and a drum kit blasting in a folie à quatre.

The piano’s contribution to the passionate sound of the band is more palpable in “Mag Mell Osmose”, swinging from stripped-down to mighty Doom drumming. On top of it, the instrumental passage enabled the individualization of each of the two guitars that glided in such a mind-blowing fluidity. Another pro is the disparity between the soft background of the female vocals and that of the growls, ardent and stern. CRIMSON SKY obviously placed a good amount of bet on the lyrical structure which was promisingly diverse, just the way the drumming further diversified the track by hopping from one pattern to another - though some beats were disposable – as well as a scale shift, the very thing this track needed most. All in all, it was a definitely edgy and emotion-packed one. More lyrical experiments are carried out on the atmospheric track par excellence “Beyond Senses” by each time differently interpreting the same lyrics or also a Q&A style all while gambling on abrupt energy climaxes and nadirs. This is one of the few tracks comporting a much needed rocky solo - for we risk an emotional overdose, bring in some finger skills!

Still, the pinnacle of experimentation is to slot a Jazzy tenor sax in a Doom track “Quinta Essentia”. Based on hardly discernable French lyrics, all the instrumentation provide a minimal backup as the real leads are the violin and the keyboards and it may be the propice environment to the saxophone to act like an entire brass section along with the striking string ensemble effect stepping in to rescue an all over the place violin and to equilibrate the territorial shares of all components. Personally, I would have preferred the saxophone to stay isolated from the condensed electric cortege, but at the next shot towards the end it worked perfectly with a less charged back up. Nevertheless, it makes me really indecisive as not all experiments come off fruitfully, otherwise no element should be « tiré par les cheveux » (literally = dragged by its hair)!

A more typical track leaning on the doomy side is “Ember Of Deities” with the two guitars harmonically detached, the bass thrillingly pounding and the toms and crashes on the lead through so hyped up double bass drum kicks in a heavily condensed recapitulative passage of tasty extras of piano and strings. This is the ideal example of how the keyboard adjuvant can be paramount.

Both vocalists can rest their mics during two tender interludes of semi-acoustic treats that are “Blind Alley” and “Caught By The Rain” that bring up the violin issue once more. The over-the-top rawness of it as well as the unfair volume distribution makes you feel the violin either shoved into your face or that of a rehearsal session. And to be precise, I’m not questioning the skills but the mixing process. Not even a simple echo to blend it with the rest of instruments that are assuring an amazing job! But overall, both tracks are wordless poetry to decipher and contemplate.

Roughly more than one hour of a colossal amount of easily-sensed effort and dedication – certes. Yet this is the beginning to what’s better, not the destination itself as more complexity is key. CRIMSON SKY does have the advantage of experience and mostly openness, two weapons that many female-fronted Gothic/Symphonic bands don’t even enjoy. When all’s said and done, this is a band with a potential worth to quarry and “exhaust the biopsy” to the fullest. Stick to the underground and never sell out!

 

3 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Searching For Light
2. Split Mind Wraith
3. Blind Alley
4. Mag Mell Osmose
5. Ember Of Deities
6. Caught By The Rain
7. Beyond Senses
8. Quinta Essentia
Lineup:
Serhii Medvid - Lead Guitars
Anatolii Kyryliuk - Keyboards
Myroslava Romaniuk - Vocals
Liudmyla Savchuk - Violin
Bohdan Torchylo - Vocals
Oleksii Omelchuk - Guitars
Serhii Korobko - Bass
Anton Miasnikov - Drums
Record Label: Metal Scrap Records
     


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