Review : CRYSTAL VIPER – "Legends"

Crystal ViperLegends
Release: 2011Feb22 (US)
Label: AFM Records
Rating: 3.5/5

Most Polish metal that crosses my path is of an extreme variety: Hate, Behemoth, Hermh. The miraculously ‘H’-less Crystal Viper strikes with a traditional approach on their third full-length release, and certainly have lots going for them. Let’s be honest, the first thing worth mentioning is vocalist/guitarist Marta “Leather Wych” Gabriel. Oh, and the first thing worth pointlessly debating about is whether or not “Wych” is better spelled “Wytch”; I think it should be… looks like it’s pronounced “wick”, right?

Anyway, she’s the reason parallels to Warlock/Doro and Benedictum readily surface. In all cases, the bands have traditional mindsets coupled with mighty melodies—plus both she and Veronica Freeman have tackled Udo Dirkschneider in Accept covers. Marta has a pronounced accent over her commanding range (which will either feel endearing or detracting), but further possesses a tr00 axe-in-the-hole.

That’s right—the chick can riff and sing. She has conviction without pretense, and even on the piano ballad “Sydonia Bork” her passion is cheese-free (though it’s still not a favorite track of mine). Andy Wave is the dude busting the sweet solos, and I think he’s responsible for the swinging pirate-y rhythms found in “Goddess of Death” and “Greed is Blind” alike. But I think the band is best when they not only do that, but also charge at full gallop, like on “Ghost Ship” and “Blood of the Heroes”—a two-pronged attack that belies the somewhat goofy intro “The Truth” by Rhino (ex-Manowar).

The second half kinda lost me. “Night of the Sin” and “Man of Stone” both try to ramp the speed back up, working in a catchy gang chorus in the former and Gabriel’s highest pitches in the latter. “Secret of the Black Water” didn’t go down well, either; despite the overt Sabbath worship, it just felt plodding. But “Black Leviathan” really caught my attention with strong Maiden influence, and this time, pirates in the subject matter, too. This is where the album ends for many, but try to find their cover of “TV War”—the opening (and best) track from Accept‘s 1986 album, Russian Roulette. Strange that an album focused on fantastic tales concludes with a tune based more in real life, but still fits their proposed overall theme: evil always returns and greed is blind.

All I know is I’m paying attention now. I’m sick of preening prima donnas who cannot pull their weight, or serve as eye candy for otherwise mediocre music. As of this post, Crystal Viper hold the top slot with NWoTHM emerging from Poland in the 21st century.

Try: 2, 3, 4, 6, 10, 11

01. The Truth
02. Ghost Ship
03. Blood of the Heroes
04. The Greed is Blind
05. Sydonia Bork
06. Goddess of Death
07. Night of the Sin
08. Secrets of the Black Water
09. Man of Stone
10. Black Leviathan
11. TV War (Accept Cover)(Bonus Track)



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