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Crimson Tears - The dark awakening 4.5/5

Reviewed: 6-29-07


1. Angel for my sin
2. Enemy of my enemy
3. Eternity
4. Frozen
5. Steal my heart
6. Emotion denied
7. Pandora's realm pt.1: Aurora
8. Pandora's realm pt.2: Luna pandora
9. Razorblade serenade
10. Strange

For some reason, U.K. bands seem to be some of my favorite. Of course, my favorite band from the U.K. is Power Quest, but Intense is awesome too and not very far behind. While not in the same style of Power Quest and Intense (and containing female vocals), Crimson Tears is the next U.K. band to greatly impress me. I'll label their debut 'The dark awakening' as symphonic metal, but they have a gothic metal side and there are also influences from the mid-paced material of bands like Stratovarius, Sonata Arctica, Kamelot and obviously Nightwish.

Despite its gothic metal side, I don't find 'The dark awakening' to be a very dark CD and it's surely not near as dark as the few CDs from Mercury Rain, probably the only band from the U.K. that I don't find to be outstanding. So 'The dark awakening' is more in the vein of an upbeat and catchy CD with outstanding guitar work, but it's also extremely refreshing. In fact, this is probably the freshest female fronted symphonic/gothic/power metal CD I've heard in months.

Vocally, wow! Gina Oldham offers up the most original female vocals of the year by a mile. Her unique voice is somewhere in the mid-range (is not operatic), but she's more than capable of hitting both the lower and the higher notes, which she does quite often. Because she's so unique, I'll refuse an attempt to throw out some comparisons, but know that she may not be for everyone. Personally however, I absolutely love her voice and it only took a few listens to appreciate her accomplishments and overall performance.

'The dark awakening' has an amazing start; both track 1 "Angel for my sin" and track 2 "Enemy of my enemy" are fairly fast-paced and will immediately grab most fans of female fronted metal. Track 3 "Eternity" leans towards gothic metal, but remains upbeat/exciting and nicely leads to the ballad "Frozen" (track 4), which contains piano highlights and Gina's softer vocals. Track 5 is awesome! It starts out with keyboards (extremely reminiscent of Stratovarius' song "Rebel") and is certainly the most memorable song on the CD.

We hit the middle of the CD with track 6 "Emotion denied", easily the darkest and longest song on the CD, and it probably features Gina's most varied vocals as well. To my surprise, I like track 7 "Pandora's realm pt.1: Aurora" a lot. It's a slow piano instrumental that I feel is in the perfect spot on the CD, brilliantly leading up to the catchy track 8 "Pandora's realm pt.2: Luna pandora" and track 9 "Razorblade serenade". Both of those songs are excellent, but the final track ("Strange") is great too, as it really comes together at the chorus and has some cool keyboard parts near the end.

So we end up with the best female fronted CD I've heard this year! There is not one weak song to be found on 'The dark awakening', and both the music and vocals come off as very refreshing. I have not one complaint and I hope the band continues with their superb variety of symphonic metal with gothic metal and power metal influences. I also hope they remain upbeat and exciting, as it's very easy to come back to this CD for repeated listens. Highly recommended!




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