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Crystal Winds – Return To The Dark Age Award winner

Crystal Winds
Return To The Dark Age
by Neil Cook at 18 July 2021, 4:42 PM

I don’t know about a “Return To The Dark Ages” for Greece’s CRYSTAL WINDS, Perhaps the late 70’s early 80’s, not 1500 years or so ago!  The band hailing from Athens, originally formed in 1999 till 2004, getting going again in 2013, producing an EP in 2016, this is their first full-length offering, and it has both feet firmly planted in the heyday of Heavy Metal, when Bands like MAIDEN, DIO, MANOWAR and PRIEST were flying the gauntlet fisted flag of the one true Metal, axes raised, ready to strike.  And CRYSTAL WINDS could quite easily have fallen through a wormhole in time from those heavy days to the present, like some sort of reverse Terminator.

So, I think we all understand what we are going to get here?  No nonsense Heavy fucking Metal.  Loud guitars (in the main), thumping drums and pounding bass. Wailing Vocals, that too.  There is no denying there is nothing new on display here.  But the questions should be is it done well? Yes is damn well is. The delivery is spot on.  The songs are what you want to hear from this type of band.  There are no-frills.  The production is right for the sound, and the sound is spot on correct for this type of music.

The song titles are straight out of the Metal Thesaurus.  “Gods Of Rock ‘N’ Roll”, “The Dark Age” and the ladies “Mean Queen” and “Dream Queen”, all wrapped in a cover of Dark Monks making their way to the ruin of their Abbe across the snowy graveyard, underneath a suitably spikey logo.  This couldn’t be anything but a Metal band.

That said we get the gamut of Metal here.  Opening track “We’ve Got the Sound” is a fast-paced romp of the PRIEST, HELLOWEEN vein. “Mean Queen” has a real 70’s vibe going on, as does “Gods of Rock ‘N’ Roll”, a dirtier sound, think early MAIDEN with The Beast singing.   “Still There” kicks in with the classic “thunder and lightning, stormy night” intro, building into a mammoth 8 minuet bombastic, brooding, building metal workout.  Again, Paul D’ianno era MAIDEN crossed with a bit ‘o MANOWAR spring to mind.

The only slightly left-field tracks, The instrumental “Through The Stars”.  It has the feel of a very long intro to “Dream Queen”, but it is more than that, and if does demonstrate the bands musical muscles, and the axe playing of Giannis Vrontis to a tee.  “Dream Queen” itself is a slow-paced lament, built on a repetitive guitar refrain, before launching into a superb solo, and returning to the same refrain.  I could see this one turning into a live set-piece extended workout.

The last couple of tracks carry on in the album’s general Metallic direction.  “Your Time Has Come” chugs along nicely, a few time changes, and about as “progressive” as its gonna get.  The last track is the title track “Welcome To The Dark Age” and the album finishes on a high.  Another chunky, mid-paced song, built on some nasty riffs and aggressive vocals.

All in all you know what you are getting, but it is served up with style, and is a damn fine feast too boot.  Your Metal craving will be satisfied.

Songwriting: 9
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 9
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1.We’ve Got the Sound
2.Mean Queen
3.Gods of Rock ‘N’ Roll
4.Still There
5.Through The Stars
6.Dream Queen
7.Your Time Has Come
8.The Dark Age
Lineup:
Thodoris Karagiorgos – Bass
Nick Teteris – Drums
Andrew Kouratoras – Vocals
Giannis Vrontis – Guitars
Record Label: Sleazy Rider Records
     


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