Cryonic - Evil mind 3.5/5
1. Kings of the hill
4. Evil mind
5. Promised land
7. Call for freedom
8. Queen of sorrow
9. The spirit
These days Swedish power metal can sometimes be like an old pair of trainers. They've both perhaps seen better days, at first glance you'd think twice about going near them, but when you actually slip them on (or into the CD player?) you remember just how comfortable they actually are.
Ok, that was a rubbish metaphor. And we'll just ignore the logical alternative that an old pair of trainers can be horribly mouldy, crusty and detrimental to the health of the owner. But it gets the point across – every idea in this subgenre has been used God knows how many times, and there is a seemingly endless supply of 2nd rate bands queuing up to pick over them, but when a band get it right – even if the results aren't spectacular – it feels like visiting an old friend after a long time away.
Cryonic, who debut with 'Evil mind', are one such band. They do nothing their countrymen Hammerfall and Nocturnal Rites weren't doing when they helped get melodic power metal back on its feet 10 years ago, but they do it with enough confidence and charm that it doesn't matter.
Hammerfall indeed seem to be the greatest influence on their sound, with several highly familiar riffs making an appearance across the CD – the intro to "Riders on the storm" in particular seems like a popular one with the younger band. That being said, the music is uniformly solid, with only the mawkish ballad "Queen of sorrow" not pulling its weight compared to the others, and the lack of originality doesn't damage the enjoyment to be found on the CD's slender 39-minute playing time.
The tragically-nicknamed vocalist Bigswede has an interesting voice that brings to mind different vocalists on different songs. He doesn't always sound in full control of his voice on the verses, but tends to shine on the powerful selection of choruses the band have come up with, especially when he throws in some pretty unusual over-the-top 'howls'. It's a little hard to describe exactly how his voice sounds at these points, but suffice to say it is something that adds a little extra character and uniqueness to the band's generic sound. Examples of this occur unexpectedly during "Coldblood", ("no glory for me...") and as an icing on the cake during the superb chorus of the rampaging CD highlight, "Fireball".
Male backing choirs (again, Hammerfall) add a little bit of extra texture to the choruses, which, as you'd expect, are often the high points of the songs. The guitar playing is impressive as well though, with the soaring solos seeming to spring from nowhere among the basic riffing. A few unusual keyboard effects aside, the music is very straightforward and geared simply towards being memorable rather than daring or flashy, and the songs vary between atmospheric, midtempo anthems and clear-cut speed-fests.
In a time when the many of the late 90s generation of Swedish power metal bands are growing stale, and younger bands like Dragonland are intent on sounding 'experimental', others like Cryonic, their almost-namesakes Cryonic Temple, and Dreamland, those that still play heads-down, no nonsense guitar based power metal are always going to be welcome. Its all been done to death of course, but as a fan it's nice to be reminded from time to time why I fell in love with this music in the first place. I'm sure that I'm not alone in that sentiment.
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