|Review: Crystal Ball - Hard Impact|
Label: AFM Records
Year released: 2000
Genre: Melodic Heavy Metal
Review online: July 17, 2012
Reviewed by: Bruce Dragonchaser
Rated 4.33/5 (86.67%) (6 Votes)
Another release from Power Metal's golden age, Hard Impact, the second album from Swiss metallers Crystal Ball, was one of the first attempts to fuse AOR with European Power Metal, and though bands like Domain and Evidence One went on to release albums that owed a lot to this, it holds up, even now.
All you need to know about Crystal Ball is they sound like Helloween playing AOR. Vocalist Mark Sweeney is a dead ringer for Andi Deris, and even the production sounds like Master Of The Rings. Mostly, Crystal Ball go for mid-paced stompers, full of simple but foot-tapping riffs, tasty, stylish solos, and choruses that find the band shouting the song title with about a million backing singers. Somehow it works, and through this formula they manage to produce hit after hit. Opener "Soul Mate" has a gloriously cheesy hook, while "Own Way" is a more traditional heavy-hitter with a Maiden-esque riff. "Crystal Ball" and "Passion" are the best songs here; this is where the band let down their guard and bust out the double bass pedal. These songs have Helloween written all over them, and the mix of Hard Rock guitars and Power Metal grandiosity works wonders.
Those who don't mind a little pomp, a slight nod to the poodle-perm days of yore, will get a kick out this and later albums by the band. It's unconventional, surprising, and above all, catchy as hell. Fans of Power Metal at its sweetest need it in their collection.
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