TALES OF FIRE AND ICE
Release: November 22, 2019
Polish heavy metal outfit Crystal Viper, founded and led by guitarist and composer Marta Gabriel, are preparing to release their new album “Tales of Fire and Ice” on November 22, via AFM Records. Regular touring and festival appearances in more than 15 countries, 7 studio albums, and a bunch of singles and EP releases the band did since 2007, established their position, and made them known as one of the most hard working and most determined bands of their generation.
While the band is often labeled as an NWOTHM act (new wave of traditional heavy metal), their new album, “Tales of Fire and Ice", presents a bit different approach, as some songs have a certain power metal vibe to them. Also, these new songs are heavier, more intense, and more melodic. The title of the album refers to the lyrics inspired by legends, mysterious stories and secrets of the world, such as the Bermuda Triangle, the Dyatlov Pass incident, or alien abduction.
Tomorrow never comes (Dyatlov Pass)
Tears of Arizona
Dream warriors (CD bonus track)
The sound of pouring rain and guitars welcomes the listener into the sonic universe that Crystal Viper have created here, as “Prelude” acts like an intro, neatly making way for the first single “Still alive”, a rather mid-tempo melodic track, with catchy riffs and hooky vocal melodies. The power metal track “Crystal sphere” picks up pace and gives the album a sense of momentum with its headbangish rhythm, double bass beats and short-but-sweet solo. There are some keyboard flourishes in the background that complement Marta’s vocals as well as the guitars, making it a stand-out track. The traditional heavy metal number “Bright lights” is a faster-paced number with a chugging guitar part overlaid on the rhythmic section, thus adding thickness to the sound, while the vocal hooks are as infections as they are melodic, and the solo is simply amazing. Could work extremely well in a live setting. So far I’m liking the build-up of the album, going heavier and speedier with each new track.
Things slow down a bit with “Neverending fire”, a hard rock type of a ballad whose bouncy vocal melodies bring to mind an old Romanian folk song (“Pseudofabula” if anyone is curious), with its strong 80s vibe, while the backing keys add layers of harmony and texture to the main melody. After the piano-driver atmospheric “Interlude” (why was this needed, I do now know), the album again gains some momentum with “Under ice”, where the double bass beats are driving the song forward, while the guitars provide a good rhythm and the vocals are melodic and catchy. Again there’s a sense of build-up here, as both “One question” and “Tomorrow never comes (Dyatlov Pass)” are speedier than the previous ones, with some very heavy metal-type of vocals and screams that are reminiscent of old Crystal Viper (and maybe even Judas Priests). I really enjoy the way the serene “Tears of Arizona” brings everything down, with piano melodies, soulful vocals and again a very 80s vibe to it. Rounding off the album is a cover of Dokken’s “Dream warriors” (CD bonus track), where the guitars and vocals provide a nice contrast to the (subdued) drums, and Marta Gabriel’s voice shows off more of its nuances, especially during the chorus. Not a bad way to close off this album.
All in all, “Tales of Fire and Ice” offers some variety while still keeping the band’s sound and style. It’s as heavy as you’d expect from Crystal Viper, I guess, but it is quite intense and melodic, bits and pieces staying with the listener afterwards. Alternating between hard rock, heavy metal, and power metal, the album has some solid tracks on it, but also a few that don’t really convince me of their worth. I am sure fans of the genre will appreciate this more than I do.
Rating: 7.5 / 10
Marta Gabriel – Vocals, Guitars
Andy Wave – Guitars
Eric Juris – Guitars
Blazej Grygiel – Bass
Tomek Danczak – Drums