Reviews list for Crimson Glory - Transcendence (1988)
Crimson Glory is another band I've heard of a long time ago but wasn't fully interested back then, that one because I didn't have the guts to go down the 80s road...until of course recently. Once again my 80s standard heavy metal interest has skyrocketed with a h*lla d*mn iconic classic to knock off the reign of more popular bands at that time like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. Even the artwork is perfect (based on poster art for the movie Lifeforce), despite bizarrely having a bit of nudity.
See the thing about sophomore albums is similar to that of sequel movies. Some fail to be (band - Prayer for Cleansing, film series - Sky High), others aren't as well-received as the debut (band - Disillusion, film series - Mission Impossible), but Crimson Glory's second album is what many people think of the film Daddy's Home 2; more successful than the debut! Transcendence has surpassed pretty much every expectation, and it's probably way more intensely powerful than their debut. I would have to listen to their debut to truly confirm that, but we've already come to this album, so let's get right on it!
The epic fist-pumper "Lady of Winter" starts the journey greatly. The late Midnight (RIP) screams amazing falsetto in the chorus, "LAAADY OF WINTEEER, TUUURNING TO RAAAIN!!". There's also a f***ing catchy opening guitar melody that makes the song instantly a classic from the start. So d*mn addictive that song! The frantic "Red Sharks" shows a more abrasive side while still mostly melodic. "Painted Skies" is a kind song to listen to, an absolutely fine ballad without any unbearable cheesiness.
"Masque of the Red Death" is more mid-paced in a standard heavy metal technique, but its twists help the song and the band stand out. A true prime cut is "In Dark Places". The lyrics are a bit cheesy, but the song is still an excellent highlight. Another prime cut but in a more straight-up sound of heavy metal is "Where Dragons Rule" which has a catchy chorus with an amazing riff. I think I love this one as much DragonForce's "Where Dragons Rule". Dragons rule! Unicorns suck!! "Lonely" adds a more melancholic touch, along with a smashing solo. That ballad once again touches the softer territory of the ballads made by Maiden, Priest, and Queensrÿche.
"Burning Bridges" stretches around with inventive arrangement. The killer riffing in "Eternal World" works out just fine. The soft yet epic closing title track starts off sounding almost oriental in both the electric intro and the acoustic rhythms shortly after. It's really interesting as h*ll, and I can definitely listen to this a second time for a bit of growth. Golden riffs and harmonic leads are what make the amazingness of this classic style of heavy metal!
Anyone who has listened to the more popular classic heavy metal bands like the 3 I mentioned above (Maiden, Priest, and Queensrÿche) and lived under a metal-free rock since 1987 should get out of there and get this album right away. Simply a f***ing classic to be owned by every heavy metal fan!
Favorites: "Lady of Winter", "Masque of the Read Death", "In Dark Places", "Where Dragons Rule", "Transcendence"
The Progressive Heavy/Power Metal tag that seems to be attached to Crimson Glory is accurate enough in describing the sound on their sophomore release, Transendence. Coming two years after their well-received, self-titled debut, the band were already showing what mature and accomplished songwriters and artists they were in their own right. The depth of the quality on their 1988 release indicating that this band had fast become a force to be reckoned with a relatively short period of time. They had been around since 1979 though (as Pierced Arrow) and had changed their name after three years to Bewoulf before settling in 1983 on Crimson Glory. Famous for their silver masks (later becoming half-masks) the band was more than just performers though. Genuine talent sat in the ranks of the band, most notably with their vocalist, Midnight.
The late vocalist joined the band in 1983 and had bedded in well by the time they got round to recording their debut. His unique and challenging vocal style was an initial obstacle for these ears to overcome but once I understood their overall place in the arrangement of the tracks then it all fell perfectly into place. His vocal style fast became the unique identifier of the band's souund, backed up by the flair and skill of the rest of the band this all combined to become a formidable force. What Transcendence showed was that the building blocks of the debut had been used to construct a memorable and genuinely interesting record full of storytelling but never straying into the boundaries of bluster.
Guitarists Jon Denning and Ben Jackson are the other real standout performances on Transendence. The duo exchange licks throughout the ten tracks on the album keeping things energised and focused, delivering capable and consistent playing that maximises the entertainment value. From the opening track, Lady of Winter it is clear that this is not an experience the listener will forget very easily, the hooks are sunk in early on and are around for the duration of the record. The overall feeling of solidity is cemented by the drum work of Dana Burnell and bass musings of Jeff Lords. Both keep pace well with the overall development of the record and ensure that the whole experience feels like a real band effort.
For an album who's title espouses some existence beyond the physical form, there is a real sense of things feeling grounded and sensible without ever getting boring. The band sadly took on a more commercial sound after this release, leading to fractures in the band and the departure of Jackson and Burnell. The band never reached the proportion of brilliance they hit on this record again and sadly Midnight passed away in 2009 bringing down the curtain on a band that had so much promise but I feel peaked too early.
I've always favoured Crimson Glory's debut over this sophomore effort however there's not much in it as they're both really high quality metal records. "Transcendence" sits somewhere between the classic Iron Maiden/Judas Priest heavy metal sound & the more progressive Queensrÿche/Fates Warning one. There's some great vocal hooks & guitar solos & the song-writing quality is very consistent throughout with no weak tracks included however there's probably not enough genuine classics to have me reaching for the higher scores. Vocalist Midnight is pretty amazing though & is the obvious focal point with his operatic style being heavily influenced by Queensrÿche's Geoff Tate. "In Dark Places" is the clear highlight for me & is a perfect example of this style of heavy metal. It stays with me for days after each listen.