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Crystal Ball - Crysteria

Crystal Ball
Crysteria
by Mark Machlay at 21 February 2022, 12:33 PM

Now that the Swiss band CRYSTAL BALL are in their third decade of existence, the band is preparing to enter a new chapter with their twelfth full-length album “Crysteria”, released this past January 28th. Initially, the group was formed as a cover band named CHERRY PIE, but transitioned to originals after a couple of years of stage experience and changed their name to reflect the evolution. Appropriately enough, they started their career with “In The Beginning”, their first full-length released in 1999 with their sophomore album “Hard Impact” making an even bigger splash the next year. They toured extensively with Danish hard rockers PRETTY MAIDS which resulted in a successful partnership with the famous label Nuclear Blast, releasing their next three albums with them – “Virtual Empire”, “Hellvetia” and “Time Walker” released in 2002, 2003, and 2005 respectively. They signed a new contract in 2007 with AFM Records but only produced 2007’s “Secrets” with them which actually brought back positive attention for the band.

CRYSTAL BALL would take an extended hiatus but return with renewed vigor in 2013 with their seventh album, “Dawnbreaker”, new vocalist Steven Mageney, new bassist Cris Stone and a fresh deal with Massacre Records who they remain with to this day. They would release four more albums in just five years until guitarist Tony “T.C.” Castell would leave in 2020. Since the COVID-10 pandemic resulted in a live show hiatus, the band spent an intensive amount of work on so much material they had 30 songs to whittle down for their next album. Their new guitarist, Peter Berger, seems instrumental to this newfound prolific output with the band owing to his motivating input. The album was produced by longtime collaborator Stefan Kaufmann, who has worked with the band since their return from hiatus as well as their final two albums when they were with Nuclear Blast. He has long tried to capture the band’s energy they exude while playing live and it seems to be well improved with this record. The album contains several guest musicians including a duet on “Call of the Wild” with Ronnie Romero who is currently singing for the revived RAINBOW who they have been friends with since doing a festival in Switzerland in 2018.

As European melodic/power metal veterans CRYSTAL BALL have chugging away for so long, “Crysteria” should be seen as a shining light in their catalog. With that said, while the entire album runs under an hour, some of the songs can get a bit repetitive. The album starts off swimmingly with the chuggy, anthemic “What Part of No” a bit reminiscent of old school NWOBH ala IRON MAIDEN. I particularly like the unique descending melodic line that featured prominently in “I Am Rock” and while the declarative sentiment of “we are heavy metal, hear us roar” has been shouted several times and maybe in more profound way, it still had enough fresh, hooky, good time to have my toe tapping while the solos were inventive and layered. But then, not too much later the title track “Crysteria” hits with epic gusto, a bit more varied rhythmically and pumps you back up a notch, how could the rest not excite me, you say? Well, by “Make My Day” while the melodic hook is definitely earwormy, the swinging rhythmic style seemed a little stale to put behind what could be an interesting track. I also think “Loins on Fire”, not only is the title a little much, but the song also wasn’t varied enough to keep my attention despite a particularly interesting, sometimes doubled, guitar solo. Funnily enough, it’s the ballad of a bonus track “Till You Meet Again” that brings me back round to enjoying my listening by showing a side rarely shown on the rest of the record.

Songwriting: 7
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 8
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. What Part of No
2. You Lit My Fire
3. Call of the Wild (feat. Ronnie Romer)
4. I Am Rock
5. Undying
6. Crysteria
7. Make My Day
8. No Limits
9. Draw the Line
10. Loins on Fire
11. Sole Conviction
12. Crystal Heart (feat. Jaded Heart) (Bonus Track)
13. Till You Meet Again (Bonus Track)
Lineup:
Steven Mageney – Vocals
Scott Leach – Lead & Rhythm Guitars, Keyboards
Peter Berger – Lead & Rhythm Guitars
Cris Stone – Bass
Marcel Sardella – Drums
Record Label: Massacre Records
     


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