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Crows - The Dying Race (Reissue)

The Dying Race (Reissue)
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 08 August 2013, 10:53 AM

So much was missed, vast acres to cover, lots of sounds and twists to experience, and I thought that the blood running within my veins is of an 80s nature. On the other hand, I was born in the 80s, so there might be truth to that. But to truly live through is devouring its period of Metal. In this particular case of the German CROWS, though releasing its sole release in 1991 right before ceasing to exist, they can be easily traced and regarded as an 80s Metal band. As I currently sit in front of the keyboard writing this down, I still can’t believe how I missed this relic. Once again Divebomb Records excavated an interesting find, unveiling CROWS for the purpose of preserving and presenting them to the world of Metal, which sadly crossed so many lines that haven’t been parallel to this band’s tough melodic Metal amalgamation. Furthermore, and that is one special factor about this release named “The Dying Race”, back then released by Century Media, is that it served as a breeding ground for several German starlets. Four of them made it through to the big stages with great bands, some lived long and others reign till this day.

Bobby Schottkowski, on drums, CROWS’s founder, later on joined the ranks of SODOM, and was only recently replaced. Bernd Kost, one of the band’s guitarists, joined CROWS near the end of the 80s, linked with Schottkowski to the SODOM Thrash giant in the same year and is there ever since. The Polish wonder, Leszek "Leo" Szpigiel, at the helm of the vocals, has been around with his country’s WOLF SPIDER, leading the German SCANNER through their debut release, joining CROWS on vocals plainly for the recording of “The Dying Race”, after the departure of the band’s previous frontman, Bruno Mattukat, and later on, at least for two years or so, at the front of MEKONG DELTA. Frank Banx, thumping the bass, has been with CROWS since its foundation, yet in the process also took his place as the bass player of ANGEL DUST, which with its entrance to the 90s became of the elite Metal bands in Europe. As for CROWS’s other lead guitar, Jochen Kalpein, there isn’t much info I am afraid, but at least he has this album as a legacy to keep close. Consequently, CROWS opened up the gates of the future for its members, but prior to their prospect, the band forged its presence.

I think that CROWS were described quite accurately, though I must admit that for a Teutonic Metal invading force, their musical characteristics appeared quite American honing their heaviness with similarities of early METALLICA, HEATHEN and JAG PANZER. Nonetheless, on top of their strapping rhythm guitar grandiloquence, I also noticed Heavy and Power Metal mentions of IRON MAIDEN, HELLOWEEN, ANGEL DUST and LUCIFER’S HERITAGE (pre-BLIND GUARDIAN). Gradually, their sort of style became one of my favourite Metal points, where melodic perspective joined forces with near Speed / Thrash utilizations. No doubt, one of the best possible fusions in Metal music, especially when inspired by such great icons of the 80s, several of them became the guidelines for others to come. CROWS’ combined effort provided interesting turnouts of specialisms, divergent songs, polished compositions serving an extent of complexity and epic qualities, soaring, semi high pitched, vocals, which seemed to have developed since the last time I listened to them on the debut of SCANNER, profound guitaring, whether the chunky rhythm assaults and astonishing lead guitar melodies and prolix soloing. Furthermore, at least for the engineering of “The Dying Race” itself, amazing sound, old school merited and plainly what Metal lost years ago.

Demonstrating the finesse of that once great era of Metal music, “The Dying Race”, in its reissue format, was enclosed with pre-album recordings like the “The Legions” demo of 1989, and previously unreleased tracks of an unnamed demo from 1988. A shrapnel of history, and I am glad that I could snatch it. Of course that there were filler tracks but the best thing was that these fillers were actually older recordings, in the image of “Back to Back” and “Cover of Ruin”, prior to “The Dying Race”’s advent. There also a few quality potentials like “The Frantic Factor”, “East Of Eden” and “Too Proud to Fight”. Nonetheless, too many were set for later crowing, anthems of old school Metal at its finest witching hour, without being VENOM about it. “Hungry”, one of the demos of “The Legions”, regrettably not recording properly, is what I consider as picture perfect, a catchy chunk of meat, nifty riffing aligned to proto Thrash and tough hymn chorus that one would have imagined of a Hard Rock nature. Mattukat might have lacked English diction, but still an ample deliverance of power. “The Dying Race”, concluding the original album, sounded similar to back then MEKONG DELTA numbers, great Power Metal, a few selectable Arabian type scales, immense bass work and a crafty guitaring work, almost MAIDENish or even compared to Classical music. “We Are The Storm” is the anthem of early German Metal, not clinging to ACCEPT, but to early harmonious and robust HELLOWEEN examples, yet heavier than the pumpkin heads, even with a halo of keyboards and atmospheric acoustics. Szpigiel’s have always been great, but this one attested that his SCANNER and WOLF SPIDER days were behind him. “The Legions”, an epic Metal destroyer, marched the armies into battle, over nine minutes of fine shots of assortments, greatly inspired by METALLICA with ounces of coarse rhythm guitar salvoes, along with Mattukat high pitched jabbering and muttering. The second part of the song, attained a different face, a bit melodic with a chorus of resolution. I believe that I spread enough recommendations for you people to head on and by yourself a copy of a remnant of Metal’s long history.

4 Star Rating

1. The Frantic Factor
2. Too Proud to Fight
3. We Are the Storm
4. "Four"
5. East Of Eden
6. Change the Border
7. Insanity Defense
8. The Dying Race
9. 4 7.
10. Hungry
11. Medusa
12. The Legions
13. Back to Back
14. Cover of Ruin
15. Angel Cry
Leszek "Leo" Szpigiel – Vocals
Bruno Mattukat - Vocals
Bernd Kost – Guitars
Jochen Kalpein – Guitars
Frank Banx – Bass
Bobby Schottkowski - Drums
Record Label: Divebomb Records


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