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Crystal Viper - The Last Axeman

Crystal Viper
The Last Axeman
by Kevin Lewis at 21 March 2022, 7:32 AM

CRYSTAL VIPER is a Polish Heavy Metal band founded in 2003. “The Last Axeman” is an EP with six original and two cover songs. Released on March 25, 2022, via Listenable Records, this is pretty straight forward Metal with two guitars, bass, drums and vocals. There are no layered in keys or strings here.

The disc begins with the title track. After a quick melodic intro, a killer riff kicks in. the rhythm under that riff is fast, frantic and a lot of fun. The intro has an almost tribal feel which completely disappears in the main body of the song. That transition is really good, though. Using clean vocals with just a bit of distortion at times, there are occasional forays into head voice and massive belting notes as well.

There is a bit of groove in “In the Haunted Chapel.” That bass gets a bit funky, and the vocals get a little layering. The riff is nice and dark, which is a good contrast to the lighter lead work. The drums have an excellent groove beat going, which solidifies this song as one of the best on the record, but that’s my opinion. Please feel free to listen and choose for yourself.

The next two songs are covers “Ulitsa Roz” from ARIA and “It’s Electric” from DIAMOND HEAD. Both are good versions. True to the original, but also in the style of CRYSTAL VIPER. Some bands lose themselves when they do covers, but not this group. They make sure you know this is their interpretation, not just a song to fill space. These are well done, solid covers. Recognizable, but not bland copies.

The rest of the songs are listed as being from the RockOut Sessions. “The Cult” has a really good riff and a killer rhythm. Marta hits a few notes that just don’t seem to hit the mark. They come out almost as a shriek. This may be intentional, but they just sound a little off to me. This could be attributed to the song being a live session and a rough recording.

Asenath Waite” has that nice, sludgy tone to it at the start that lets you know this song is going to really rock. The riff shifts to a faster tempo and the vocals come in strong and bold. The extra grit in the vocals fit this song really well. The guitar solo is fantastic, and the drums step up under the solo to give a bit of extra support at just the right time.

Whispers From Beyond” and “Flaring Madness” are both good songs. “Whispers” is a bit slower, and “Flaring” really rips. The riff in the latter is one of the best on this disc. The drums and bass both do extra duty and handle that tasty riff with ease. This is a song that would be killer to hear live.

CRYSTAL VIPER is a very good Metal band. This feels a little under-produced. Since there is a compilation from 2008 with the same name that has multiple versions of the title track, I suspect this is almost like a Part II of that release with different supporting tracks. The RockOut Sessions sound a bit like they might come from a full band playthrough series of recordings. If we are lucky, this could be the indication the band is preparing to go on tour, and this is how they are preparing for a killer to be taken around the world!

Songwriting:  8
Musicianship:  8
Memorability:  8
Production:  8

4 Star Rating

1. The Last Axeman
2. In the Haunted Chapel
3. Ulitsa Roz (Aria Cover)
4. It's Electric (Diamond Head Cover)
5. The Cult
6. Asenath Waite
7. Whispers from Beyond
8. Flaring Madness
Marta Gabriel – Vocals/Guitars
Blaze J. Grygiel – Bass
Andy Wave – Guitar
Eric Juris – Guitar
Record Label: Listenable Records


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Edited 29 September 2022

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