Crystal Throne by Crystal Throne
26 Nov 2021
Remember that time you dreamt you were living inside a fast paced 80s arcade racing game? Do you remember the soundtrack? Let me jog your memory - it was French progressive heavy metal band Crystal Throne. Well believe it or not your dreams have come true and Crystal Throne are here to rock you straight to wherever it is they reside in the far corners of the galaxy.
The opening number to this self titled debut album is a journey in itself. If you happen to miss the cover art ripped straight from a page of a Dungeons and Dragons rulebook this instrumental first track may take you by surprise. We first hear an echoey distant guitar being picked which is soon drowned out by a more prominent riff bouncing around in the foreground with a tone that is cheeky and uplifting. Before long though a holy metal orchestra takes over every inch of the room. In the perfect amount of time to make this a successful introduction to the album the lead guitar then breaks down in to a textbook Hollywood ending and gives you a well earned breather and chance to gather your thoughts.
Track 2 picks things up right where they left off and really we stay on that same page for most of the record. Guitarist Max Waynn is the sound of Crystal Throne and he manages to completely embody early eighties new wave heavy metal. Waynn shifts between catchy riffs, layered up rhythm and seizure inducing shredding. His pedal board which is transporting the listener through time and space is stuck in another era but we are all thankful for it.
Vocalist Terry DeFire excites me less. His style is immediately recognisable and is reminiscent in every way of the new wave of British heavy metal bands from the late 70s and 80s. Unfortunately though, in trying to emulate his idols DeFire has planted himself in an octave his voice doesn't seem too confident in. Holding certain notes sometimes seems like a stretch for him and the range comes across unnatural. This may be lack of experience but I think he needs to find his own style and something that works for him a bit better. Valkyrie Ride breaks from the norm and incorporates some more guttural singing and growls. This adds a nice flavour and break from DeFire's regular pitch which can get a bit repetitive and even piercing. As always Waynn rips this song apart with his solo 4 minutes in and the vocals that come after this break are backed with evil laughs and theatrical character.
The record ends with Crystal Warrior, an 8 minute behemoth that journeys through Mediterranean inspired guitar play, retro overdriven solos, dramatic breaks and enormously varied vocal parts. The layered guitars, diverse vocal approaches and defined sections give Crystal Warrior an operatic feel. It sounds like the soundtrack to a most awesome adventure and a great way to end this album.
On the whole Crystal Throne have developed a recognisable character to their music. There is no doubt you are listening to the same band throughout and for a debut record that is always a good sign. There is some work required on the production of future records for sure and the vocal parts are not my favourite but I think Max Waynn is a pleasure to listen to. Have I been too critical? The record is out now on Spotify and Bandcamp so take a listen and let me know.