Crescent Shield - The last of my kind 4/5
1. Above mere mortals
2. Slaves to the metal horde
3. Rise of the red crescent moon
4. Burn with life
5. The last of my kind
6. North for the winter
7. The path once chosen
8. The great devoid
9. Unfinished ashes
10. Await the champion
11. The passing
The impressive debut CD from this American metal band displays a unique, exuberant voice in the melodic metal genre. This is an essential purchase for people who love complex yet engaging U.S. metal in the style of Jag Panzer and Helstar.
Crescent Shield features vocalist Michael Grant of Onward and the first Legend Maker CD (and even some unrecorded work with New Eden) and Dan Delucie from Destiny's End, as well as the first New Eden CD and Secret Wisdom (which never got past the demo stage). They're joined by drummer Craig Anderson, who performed on Seven Witches' 'Year of the witch' and the touring band with Ray Alder's Engine project, and bassist Melanie Sisneros who played in Sinergy and New Eden as well. If not clear from that ancestry, this band carries the threads of the current U.S. power metal family tree in an admirable imitation of the Sabbath/Purple/Rainbow commingling that once ruled the hard rock and metal world.
As suspected then, to the extent you're familiar with the prior works of a lot of these band members, this CD features precise yet heavy metal instrumental work, complex and powerful, with thoughtful lyrics and imperious vocals, with a harder and less "sing-song" edge than their European power metal brethren. What's most impressive, however, is that in this release, all is this wrapped together in a captivating, absorbing package which drives you along with memorable choruses and devastating songs, and it's something this particular sub-genre can occasionally lack. Instead, all the power, intricacy, and emotion come together quite well and succeed. In this they certainly bear a similarity to the best recent releases of Jag Panzer, which capture the same marriage and, in fact, is a somewhat similar style.
Vocalist Grant has a powerful, majestic presence with a tinge of bombast, somewhat in line with Harry Conklin in sound and presence and shades of James Rivera in singing style, but lower pitched. He does a great job conveying the melodies. (I cannot forget the first time I met Grant, at a Nevermore concert, and a shorter haired MG sang along to Warrel Dane with extravegant drama on every word of the 'Politics of Ecstasy' CD.) DeLucie, as the sole axeman, delivers a stunning array of riffs, leads, cuts, and, luckily, the occasional change-up in the slower paced acoustic or instrumental background. The way all the guitar work is so powerful, yet comes together, reminds me of some of the best 80s Metal Blade acts, and it's obvious in all the work done here what a labor of passion this must be from the former metal journalist of Netherwords. The rhythm of the bass and drums is substantial and steady, managing to be far from simple without straying from the core of the songs themselves, as an overly progressive drummer might.
All in all, the work is just great, and not only is it a fantastic slab of American metal with plenty to like all the way around, but actually manages to sound like something we haven't heard 10 times already in the proceeding year, and when you can succeed on all counts, that's well done. For fans of classic 80s Metal Blade bands like Fates Warning, Omen, and Helstar, and the best recent works by the bloodline bands mentioned above and especially Jag Pazner, look no further for a great sample of what you love. (Cue Adam Sessler voice: That's why we give 'The last of my kind' 4 raised swords, out of 5.)
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