Crescent Shield - The stars of never seen 4/5
1. Under cover of shadows
2. The grand horizon
3. Tides of fire
4. 10,000 midnights ago
5. Temple of the empty
6. My anger
7. The bellman
8. The endurance
The 2nd CD from America’s Crescent Shield is pretty much as expected, sublimely executed and well played, complex melodic U.S. metal, with its own unique tone and songwriting slant, and should greatly please fans of its predecessor 'The last of my kind'.
Crescent Shield’s style is that of complex, (usually) dark, speedy, and melodic metal, a style typically American, but which Mercyful Fate had a lot to do with, and Helstar ultimately distilled in some of its purest initial forms in 'Nosferatu' and 'Distant thunder'. The more recent incarnations we’ve seen, like Destiny’s End and New Eden are ones in which Crescent Shield’s band members have been involved as well. Arching over that style is Michael Grant’s rather unique vocals inextricably linked to a songwriting style which gives the songs yet another texture woven over that intricacy, making them more engaging than a complete shred-and-memorization fest. As also expected, the lyrics are terrific, painstaking and ambitious, thoughtful and intelligent sci-fi and fantasy mixed in with more earthly concerns.
Michael Grant (Onward, Cypher Seer, Legend Maker (as a session vocalist on their debut)) provides his grand, imperious style, with a hint of James Rivera at his most choral, but with a cleaner, more operatic vision... perhaps imagine James mixed with parts Geoff Tate and Messiah Marcolin. Dan Delucie (Destiny’s End, New Eden) by now is a veteran impresario on his axe, and even as the sole guitarist, provides a staggering array of leads and riffs that’s probably enough to fill out 2 or 3 simpler metal CDs, but at this point also demonstrates a variety of techniques and approaches to temper the never yielding metalness. Melanie Sisneros on bass (who played, but not recorded with New Eden and Sinergy) does a great job with a dynamic, energetic approach that gives tremendous character to the music. Craig Anderson on drums fills out the sound with strong, solid backing rhythm.
While not a major issue, the production is rather sharp and brash, and despite the unique complexity of the music, in that element is more reminiscent of typical 80s and 90s vinyl production, and doesn’t quite have the impressive sound that we are treated to with some of the better recorded CDs of late, and to my ear, may not be quite up with its predecessor in that regard.
The CD opens in elegant and imposing style with the epic “Under of cover of shadows” and its eldritch story, moving through a variety of the brooding moods shown on the CD, in contrast to “My anger”, which shows the band getting right to the metallic point with a sub 3.5-minute song. “The endurance” chronicles the epic and unbelievable real life adventure in the Antarctic in 1914, and the song encompassing those lyrics is grand, ambitious and adventuresome in its own right. The terse “The bellman” has one of the more unique tones on the CD, with a major key, rolling feel and harmonic vocals in rounds, while “Lifespan” provides a more punchy, uptempo and straightforward song to close up the CD.
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