Krusader - Angus 3.5/5
1. And shall begin the clan
2. Cerridwen wind
3. The first warrior
4. Ice blood
6. Part I - Virtutes septem
7. Part II - Shall feel my sword
8. Part III - My heart I'd give to you
9. Battle memories
11. Marching overture
12. Holy metal sign
13. Bohemian rhapsody
14. Ocean to war
15. The King's return
16. Marching overture (long version)
Krusader is a band that its difficult to really find out anything about if you don’t speak Portuguese, but with their debut full-length ‘Angus’, the Brazilian outfit serve to remind that quality music talks with a voice of its own. It is a lengthy CD that I understand was quite some time in the making, and while it doesn’t quite hit the high water mark with every song, it is a collection of sturdy, often heady, symphonic power metal.
Bands with 2 full-time vocalists are something of a bugbear for me, as I often find the power of the songs is compromised by the predictability of approach that comes from trying to give both singers a fair shake. Krusader take a different, more considered approach to the style though, as while they have 2 official singers, Skyscraper frontman Rick Ricci is without doubt the main voice of the CD. Kamila Martin’s voice is used very carefully, and while she is given a few moments at centre stage her role is more commonly to punctuate the songs at the most appropriate moments - if you want a comparison, the situation is similar to the way Oratory worked in their early days before Marco Alves did everyone a favour and got out of Ana Lara’s way.
The balance struck between the singers is indicative of how well the vocals on the whole are arranged; it may sound a bit strange, but the thing that really jumps out about the CD is how effectively the choirs are used. There are more bands than it’s possible to count that make heavy use of choirs vocalists, but the way Krusader fit these booming segments around 2 full-time singers and some seriously heavyweight guest stars is of credit to their strength as musicians.
I know comparing Brazilian bands to Angra is about as lazy as... not even bothering to come up with a metaphor for being lazy... but considering Krusader have managed to rope in both the vocalists to have fronted the yardstick against which all Brazilian power metal is measured, it’s fair to say they have been something of an influence on them. Middle-era Kamelot is also something that is brought to mind through the tasteful orchestral arrangements that add flair to the songs without ever bogging them down.
Andre Matos pops up early in proceedings on “The first warrior”, while Edu Falaschi predictably trumps him on “Again”, his inimitable baritone adding considerable might to a galloping melodic beast that would be arguably be the best song on the CD even without his help. While there are progressive touches here and there, and some balladeering interludes (some successful, some not so much), it is on these out-and-out power metal screamers that Krusader really find their form and provide the seriously memorable moments on what is a strong, if slightly overloaded, CD.
“Holy metal sign”, is another in this vein, and seems to bring the CD to a natural conclusion before it suddenly picks up again for another 4 tracks. The cover of "Bohemian rhapsody" is just such a bizarre choice, and while it is quite flawlessly executed (maybe they just wanted to get their money’s worth out of the choir), one of the most ubiquitous songs in the history of popular music suddenly popping up in the middle of a symphonic power metal CD is always going to stick out by a mile.
After this confusing sidestep though, 2 startlingly good songs close proceedings properly. “Ocean to war” is a bit of a departure from the norm, built on ballsy, marching riffs and feeling more like the work of a Greek or Italian epic metal outfit, it adds a little bit of grit to the mix. “The king’s return” hails from more familiar climes, and after its charming symphonic intro explodes into life, culminating in an arresting chorus that splits between amazingly controlled falsetto bursts and, of course, those enrapturing choir vocals.
While at 16 tracks and 66 minutes in length it is possibly a little overcooked, ‘Angus’ is a formidable debut that offers excitement, passion and variety. Krusader may be something of an unknown quantity, but on the strength of this CD they are more than deserving of your attention.
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