|Review: Crystal Ball - Dawnbreaker|
Label: Massacre Records
Year released: 2013
Genre: Power Metal
Review online: April 22, 2014
Reviewed by: MetalMike
Rated 2.5/5 (50%) (2 Votes)
I had never heard Switzerland's Crystal Ball before receiving the promo for their seventh album, Dawnbreaker. I figured being European, having a name like "Crystal Ball" and opening said album with a guitar-driven cover of Strauss' "Thus Spoke Zarathustra" (you know it as the majestic music from the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey) that I was in for some Heavenly/Celesty/Kaledon-style super-fast, happy Power Metal. Little did I expect that what I would hear instead was heavily 80s-tinged gritty, melodic Heavy Metal/Hard Rock. Can't judge a book by its cover, I guess.
On the up side, the guitar work is excellent. The riffs are straight from the harder side of the late 80s with little of the sissified strumming of the hair metal movement. The guitar sound is bright, crunchy and in your face, just the way they should be. The solos aren't particularly noteworthy but I was strumming the air guitar anyway. The vocals are another significant source for your daily allowance of grit. They are right out of the Chris Boltendahl/Patrick Suhl school of how to destroy your vocal chords and suit the music well. Songs like "Break of Dawn," "Touch the Sky" and "Bond of Love" are simple but effective. On the down side, some of the lyrics are pretty suspect. I'm not usually one who spends a lot of time deciphering lyrics but some of the lines on Dawnbreaker are so clumsy and heavy-handed it is almost painful. Take the chorus on "The Brothers Were Wright" (see what they did there?), for example; "The world was wrong/The brothers were Wright/And it caused a big sensation." Really? I hadn't noticed. Come on, man's first powered flight changed the world and all Crystal Ball could come up with to describe it was the word "sensation"??? I'm assuming English isn't the first language for the guys in the band, but that just isn't going to cut it. There are a couple of ballads, "Eternal Flame" and "Stranded," that sound like they might have been lifted from Poison and are hard not to skip.
Overall, Dawnbreaker isn't breaking new ground and is, in fact, plowing some well-turned fields that have been in use since the 80s. Sometimes, they do it quite well and foot-tapping ensues. Other times, not so much. At 13 songs ("Touch the Sky" and "Bond of Love" bonus tracks included) and 50 minutes, I would say Crystal Ball could have cut 3-4 of the weaker songs and had a much more enjoyable album. There's still some quality stuff here for fans of Gun Barrel, early Grave Digger and the like, but they'll be skipping more than a few songs as well.
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