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Crystal Sword – Evil Inside Award winner

Crystal Sword
Evil Inside
by Mark Machlay at 04 May 2021, 6:34 AM

CRYSTAL SWORD is an example of a band that seems to have been forgotten, and swallowed by the multitude of melodic death metal bands in the early 2000s and never gained much footing outside of their home country. The Ukrainian melodic death band from the city of Chernihiv was started in May of 1999 under the name BLACKEND. By the time they were ready to release their first album, “Old Man” would be released in 2003 under their new name CRYSTAL SWORD. They played a solo show in their hometown of Chernihiv in September of 2007 in which the entire program of the group was presented. This earned them performances in 2008 in Kiev at the “Tattoo fest” and in Kremenchug at the “Corrosion of Metal”. In April of 2008 the band were invited to take part in recording cover versions dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the Russian thrash/speed metal band METAL CORRSION’s album “Order of Satan” with their version of the song “Lucifer”. They would then open for METAL CORRSION a month later. 10 years later, the band would release their second album “Evil Inside” with a slightly updated sound. Unfortunately, shortly after, due to various circumstances, there were few concerts from the band and they stopped playing live.

Flash forward to 2021 and the band has decided to re-lease their music on various platforms to hopefully get some more buzz for a possible return to live music. Thankfully, they have also re-mastered their two albums as well, so this isn’t a simple re-release. The second of the two, “Evil Inside” saw the band take a major evolutionary step forward in both production and overall maturing of their sound. Gaponenko’s vocals have noticeably shifted out of the blackened style of their previous record into the more gravely, throaty death growls and have become less clear in trying to decipher what is actually said. Given that they are spoken in what is most likely Ukrainian or Russian language, I can’t judge them but the style has overall improved from “Old Man”. Going for a different approach to the beginning of the album, “Maniac” serves as a fiery, almost throwback to IRON MAIDEN/NWOBHM riffing with an explosive fire to start, unlike the sleepy “Intro” track of their previous album. But it isn’t quite straightforward, flirting with groove metal and goregrind like rhythmic shifts and drudges through sludge in the middle before ending with blast beats and firm a definitive stop from a short and sweet opening track. “New World” follows in a similar manner with hard-hitting riffs, some really cool flashes of dual lead work, and a great tapping-style guitar solo.

But again, the brilliance and creativity is belied by the first two tracks. Three tracks in we get to the aptly titled “Legend” The track begins with clean, atmospheric guitar work and some beautifully arranged subtle string work. Then you start hearing some tinkling cymbals give a preview to a groovy, thrashy, moody riff overtop of some stellar drum work. But by the end, it’s back to faster thrashy, IN FLAMES-like guitar harmonies and riffage. This is followed up by the gorgeously symphonic instrumental “Evil Inside” though it does feel a little long at over 7 minutes. Clean guitars and delicate piano crashes into stylish lead flairs and triadic riff work. At times, it reminds me of METALLICA’s arguably best instrumental “Call of Cthulhu”. “Zombie of the XXI Century” serves as a short pinch harmonic-laden interlude that shares a lot of similarities with early ARCHE ENEMY work with its rhythmically complex, often harmonically doubled riffs going into the last two tracks. “Why?” is a melancholic and menacing frolic in beautiful clean guitar work before the driving, monstrous and fairly dramatic heavy section kicks in with some hints of synth overtop to glisten it a bit. There is so much more here the melo-death lover who covets the early work of CHILDREN OF BODOM, ARCH ENEMY and TRIVIUM. CRYSTAL SWORD is/was a criminally underrated band and I only hope a surge in people discovering their small catalog will convince the members to create more.

Songwriting: 10
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 9
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Maniac
2. New World
3. Legend
4. Evil Inside-instrumental
5. Zombie of the XXI Century
6. Why?
7. Tears of the Damned Soul
8. Lucifer
Lineup:
Dmytro Gaponenko – Bass & Vocals
Victor Antonenko – Guitars
Artem Rey – Drums
Avlo Shapoval – Guitars
Record Label: Metallurg Music
     


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