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Review: Crimson Glory - Astronomica
Crimson Glory

Label: Spitfire Records
Year released: 1999
Duration: 69:38
Tracks: 10
Genre: Heavy Metal

Rating: 4/5

Review online: March 7, 2003
Reviewed by: Sargon the Terrible
Readers Rating

Rated 3.84/5 (76.84%) (38 Votes)

Nobody was more surprised, or excited than me to see a new Crimson Glory album out after all this time. Old CG fan that I am, I was eagerly looking forward to a new melodic metal opus. Even the word that Midnight was not a part of the re-formed band did little to damp my enthusiasm. I was sure they would have to get a superlative replacement, so I held my breath and got the album.

Does it equal "Transcendence?" no. Not even close. But I wasn’t expecting anything on the level of their classic release, I was just hoping it would be good, and it is. "Astronomica" has a different sound than old CG, but it’s an album worthy to bear the Crimson Glory name. After the pounding opener "March to War" (a heavied-up Enya tune(!) "War of the Worlds" cranks up the metal. This is a decent track, but not what I expect from CG. It’s too stomp-stomp, without the elegant harmonies and catchy riffs I expect from this band.

"New World Machine" had me all smiles when the opening lick came burning out of my stereo. This one is Crimson Glory all the way, with a great guitar work and a memorable chorus.

"Astronomica" is the best song on here, and ranks right up there with the best songs they’ve ever written. Starting out with an oriental-flavored acoustic intro, "Astronomica" launches into a groovy, heavy riff that will have your head banging in no time. This song has a massively catchy chorus that sticks in your head like an iron-barbed harpoon.

"Edge of Forever" is another great tune, slower and more spacey. An interesting thing about this song is that the melodic refrain is carried by the guitars, not the vocals. When you hear it you’ll see what I mean.

"Touch the Sun" is a ballad-esque song, maybe not as strong as it should be but with a great chorus. "Lucifer’s Hammer" is a much more modern-metal sounding track, very hard and heavy. It’s a good song, but it doesn’t really sound like Crimson Glory. "Other Side of Midnight" is another ballad, seemingly a sequel to "Lost Reflection" from CG’s 1986 debut. It’s weird and spacey, and not all that strong a song. "Cyber-Christ" is my least favorite song here, and the most uncharacteristic song on the CD. It’s another staccato march in the "Lucifer’s Hammer" mode, only without the cool chorus and with pitch-shifted vocals – ugh.

"Cydonia" comes close to redeeming all sins on this album. It’s a smooth and groovy song with an absolutely stellar chorus you’ll be singing for days. This is another song that can hold its head up among the best songs CG ever put together. A first-rate tune. The only spoiler is that the track includes 20+ minutes of stupid radio and CB broadcasts about UFOs, which means you can NOT leave this CD on ‘shuffle’, bummer.

Much was made of Midnight’s replacement, Wade Black. Crimson Glory purists howled that it was blasphemy to replace the greatest vocalist in metal. Well, Wade isn’t Midnight, but he does a good job here. He manages all the high notes, but he has a harder, more aggressive tone than Midnight, without the silk and steel sheen of his predecessor. He seems more at home screaming on "Lucifer’s Hammer" than singing the smoother lines on "Cydonia" or "Touch the Sun". But with any criticism, it must be kept in mind he was trying to replace one of the most storied singers in metal, and for the most part he pulled it off.

The CD layout is very good, with nifty astrology-inspired layouts, lyrics, and a band pic. The liner notes make plain Jon Drenning’s obsession with UFO’s, no doubt responsible for the aforementioned annoying space-waster on "Cydonia"

This is a good CD, it has a handful of good songs, two excellents tunes, and only two clinkers. The production is absolutely superb, and the album sounds huge and crystal clear. While it doesn’t measure up to "Transcendence" it’s still an enjoyable album, and for true CG fanatics like myself it’s enough like the old stuff to give a major rush. Even those unfamiliar with Crimson Glory will find much to enjoy.

Standout Tracks: Astronomica, Edge of Forever, Cydonia.

Other related information on the site
Review: Crimson Glory (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Review: Transcendence (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
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