|Review: Crystal Ball - Secrets|
Label: AFM Records
Year released: 2007
Genre: Melodic Heavy Metal
Review online: November 3, 2007
Reviewed by: Bruce Dragonchaser
Rated 4/5 (80%) (8 Votes)
It's nice to have Crystal Ball back, and having inked a deal with the venerable AFM records, a new album is finally here; an album aptly named "Secrets", for they seemed to have kept their genius hidden from us in the past, proving with their fifth effort that they are indeed a force to be reckoned with. From what I can remember, not much has changed in the Swiss metallers' repertoire, except for the first time, I have found myself humming the melodies irrationally, on an almost daily basis - which is a rarity itself these days - and I actually enjoyed every minute of "Secrets", too, yet another scarcity.
Blending the crunchy guitars and smooth keys of Domain and Evidence One with the soaring melodies of Edguy and Masterplan, Crystal Ball prove their worth with practically every track, offering slick guitar work, powerful arrangements, and a proficient production job. There is quite thick tone to Mark Sweeney's vocals - sounding a little like Andi Deris in places - and indeed, the music tends to drift towards power metal territory at times, marking an obvious resemblance to some of the slower, heavier Helloween tracks and even "Rocket Ride"-era Edguy. This is no bad thing, as opener "Moondance" and the double-pedal led madness of the title track are very fine metal tunes, both with outstanding choruses and no dearth of accessible hooks. The galloping "Wings of Fire" and "Minor Key" are the highlights of the disk, particularly the latter, which has one of the catchiest melodies I've heard all year, but it's not all gravy. There are a number of filler tracks; the plodding "I'll Be Waiting" feels like a ride on a broken carousel, and the lacklustre "Dreaming of You" is a ballad of the sugary Foreigner kind; one I'm sure the majority of the sweaty metal community will want to miss. But on a whole, "Secrets" is a very enjoyable effort that owes a lot to the hard rock scene of old - especially in the riffs - but has a modern edge that is likely to appeal. Recommended.
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