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CRYSTAL VIPER Possession

By Becky Dorsett, Houston Contributor
Sunday, February 23, 2014 @ 9:41 AM


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CRYSTAL VIPER
Possession

AFM Records





When I first heard CRYSTAL VIPER, for some reason it didn't make much of an impression on me. Then I re-listened to it a few times and was pleasantly happy with what I heard. Possession is a concept album about demonic possession a la KING DIAMOND, which could quite easily have strayed into lifeless campiness, but the band's songwriting skills and Gabriel's distinctive vocals turn out a powerful performance.

“Voices in My Head” starts with driving, massive riffs with big, echoing drums, and a great melody. Gabriel's vocals are ragged-and-tough but with a clean delivery “Julia Is Possessed” starts with acoustic guitar, but almost immediately goes to another set of heavy riffs with guitar/bass galloping. Though relentless in their heaviness, CRYSTAL VIPER never lets those riffs get boring, and even when the verses lack melody, they make up for it on the choruses with powerful tunes that let Gabriel thoroughly pummel the listener. They have some guest vocals on here for the male parts of the album, including Harry Conklin from JAG PANZER. “Mark Of The Horned One” is a head banging good time with some excellent soloing as well.

“Why Can't You Listen” is where the whole "epic" part comes in. It is the longest track on the album, it's plodding, ponderous and bass-heavy, and crunches its way along with Gabriel's vocals as a counterpoint, with screams at the end (they chose 50 lucky fans off Facebook to help). “You Will Die You Will Burn” is faster, but crunches and thuds even more deliberately and heavily than the preceding track.

A lot of female-fronted metal bands occasionally soften their sound to match better with their front woman's vocals, but if anything, CRYSTAL VIPER seems just to get heavier, and when they speed up and launch into another, fast, melodic solo, all that heaviness doesn't go away. This is where the lyrics are taking a bit of a twist.

The whole album is basically an exorcism scene and has all the usual parts one expects from a KING DIAMOND album (the priest exorcist, worried parents, girl being possessed, etc.), but by “We Are Many” this so called demon is revealing himself as an alien from Zeta Reticuli (the source of the Roswell-crash aliens, according to conspiracy theories), who created the human race and has an urgent message to stop killing each other. CRYSTAL VIPER knows their audience -- the shift from one corny epic metal subject to another was definitely a plot twist and it made me smile. “We Are Many” is a decent song but really just moves the story on to the final song “Prophet Of The End”, which isn't the heaviest track (that honor goes to "You Will Die, You Will Burn"), but is definitely the most epic. The melody, slow and winding, is sung beautifully and as solemnly as Gabriel is capable of.

4.5 Out Of 5.0

Track List:

  • "Zeta Reticuli"
  • "Voices In My Head"
  • "Julia Is Possessed"
  • "Fight Evil With Evil"
  • "Mark Of The Horned One"
  • "Why Can’t You Listen"
  • "You Will Die, You Will Burn"
  • "We Are Many"
  • "Prophet Of The End"
  • "Thundersteel" (bonus track)


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