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Crystal Viper - Crimen Expecta Review

by Matt Hensch

There are few bands that can truly replicate and capture the heat of heavy metal; Crystal Viper is one of those bands. I was always flirting around with the occasional song or two, never taking this Polish squad too seriously...that is, until "Crimen Expecta." Crystal Viper's standout point from the herd happens to be the female vocals of Marta Gabriel layered over the metallic incantations which conjure images of leather, chains, alcohol, and our master in Hell, all baked in a freshly woven hint of old-school bliss. A lot of groups try crafting from this mold, especially the revival tribes sprouting up like tulips after a month of April storms, yet only few can reasonably match the authentic nature of its genetics. With "Crimen Expecta," it feels like Crystal Viper knows the ups, downs, ins and outs of what it means to kick butt.

Crystal Viper undoubtedly shows imprints of Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Running Wild in case you were wondering. That isn't to group them into a certain niche or sound, because these folks are pretty much in a league of their own. Gabriel's vocals very much transcend the stereotypical female vocalist role in a heavy metal project—her style is hot, intense, demanding and individualistic, featuring the banshee screams and melodic crooning ΰ la Rob Halford. On top of the voice, Crystal Viper's fatal strike delivers a multitude of speedy riffs covered in total fire and mid-paced structures that are equally enthralling. They run through a variety of stellar melodies and guitar leads stitched on the ironclad grip that seems to have control over the whole album. Notice I'm not complaining.

Pocket-sized rockers like "It's Your Omen" or "Hope Is Gone, Here's New Law" are dazzling onslaughts of catchy, muscular metal yielding mighty riffs and demanding power which will result in hours of neck-breaking fun. Longer anthems like "Fire Be My Gates" or the title track capture Crystal Viper taking on a variety of instrumental themes, all of which are wonderfully crafted pieces of incredible heavy metal. In fact, the title track features an amazing cameo by Hell's overtly cinematic David Bower. I'm a huge fan of Hell's work so I almost did a flip in delight once Bower's chimes emerged from the epic riffs. Awesome song as well; totally addictive and memorable. The finest element of "Crimen Expecta" happens to be the pure fragment of heavy metal they shove in your face whether you like it or not, and you can leave if you can't handle real riffs and smashing percussion. Go listen to Machine Head, or whatever.

The CD version bonus tracks are equally sensational, much like the rest of the album. "Tyrani Piekieł," a cover tune originally penned by the legendary godfathers of Polish death metal known as Vader, is a rip-riding haymaker of hyperactive riffs and incredible passion; it also features guest vocals from Vader's Piotr Wiwczarek, too. "Ghosts of Sheerwood" relies on an emotional tenor instead of the relentless steel found throughout most of the album, but it is also a dazzling tune, perhaps the record's best. Crystal Viper doesn’t try to progress heavy metal, but their songwriting has several noteworthy nooks, and their instrumentation indents more brawn than cookie-cutter tribute acts running around like Judas Priest. Crystal Viper has individualism and their junk in order, so give "Crimen Expecta" a try if you lust for untainted METAL!

Crystal Viper - Crimen Expecta


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