Continuing their great form from the debut, the latest album shows the band’s maturity
Austrian heavy/power metal band Crimson Cult took everyone by surprise back in 2009 when they charged onto the metal scene with their wonderful fresh sounding and versatile self-titled debut CD. Capturing the essences of other metal genres and forging it into their songs, and stamped with the band’s signature aggressive guitar sound, the release scored high grades across reviews worldwide. Unknown vocalist Walter Stuefer led the charge with his gruff, gritty and powerful voice, perfect for metal of this genre, helped put his band on the map. Now in 2012, Crimson Cult have returned with their much anticipated follow-up second disc, called ‘Tales of Doom’; continuing the band’s success from the debut.
Having to leave the fallen label Dockyard 1, it took a while for Crimson Cult to find another home; a trend that spread right across the other bands who were also signed to the once fruitful label. Since the time Dockyard had to close its doors, not very many bands had found another label, or were able to release new material either. Luckily the majority of those bands have signed new deals with other labels, including Crimson Cult, who are now with Pure Steel Records subsidiary - Pure Legend Records.
The quartet from Salzburg have again impressed with the new album ‘Tales of Doom’, very much in the same vein as the debut, however this time round they have found their direction and there is less influences from other genres. That could be either an advantage or disadvantage, depending on the way you look at it, however the deep and booming guitar chords from Günter Maier still have a doom metal feel to them. Just as, if not heavier than the debut, the tracks vary in speed and intensity, but are always accompanied by crushing guitar riffs, brutal heavy bass lines (Alexander Hilzensauer) and thumping drumming thanks to the talented Peter Bachmayer.
Once again, much like with the debut disc, vocalist Walter Stuefer adds so much to the new CD, with his unique voice that contains so much passion, grit and gruffness. A powerful voice with a hint of similarity with the late Ronnie James Dio, Stuefer can deliver a tremendous note, whether it is in the higher realms or down in the depths, his raspy vocals carry a lot of weight throughout each song. While the songs on ‘Tales of Doom’ may be more straightforward dark modern/power metal than the previous disc, there are glimpses of other genres leaking through some of the tracks. Take the slower, grinding track “Coshinja” for example. The track has segments containing long and powerful low end riffs reminiscent of doom metal and in particular bands like Candlemass and My Dying Bride. An interesting track it is too, with “Coshinja” containing odd lyrics and is fairly different from the rest of the album; however a very good track just the same.
“The Long Way Home”, the longest track on the CD (clocking in at just over nine minutes), uses a song structure frequently used by Iron Maiden in their lengthy tracks, where the song begins slowly, prods along and then picks up pace slightly in the chorus and even quicker in the middle part before and after the guitar solo. “The Long Way Home” is another well-crafted and well written track and does not let up for the entire nine minutes. One of the beefiest tracks on the disc is the brilliant “Warrior Son”, which reminds me of Heaven & Hell (particularly with Seufer’s vocals) and the track could have easily slotted into ‘The Devil You Know’. Quite bombastic with thumping bass and low end wailing groove style guitar riffs that you can’t help but bang your head to, “Warrior Son” is easily one of the best songs on the album.
As well as the wonderful and emotional atmospheric semi-ballad “On the Edge”, ‘Tales of Doom’ contains the excellent “Behind the Curtain”. With commanding vocals and swift and precise guitar chords and riffs, “Behind the Curtain” is typically the “classic” Crimson Cult sound, melodic and catchy during the chorus, but heavy and quite powerful throughout. Last but not least is the riff-laden, short but to-the-point track “Second Life”. Rather energetic and fast, the riffs pulled out on this song require your air guitar to make yet another appearance, while the solo is also a big highlight.
While this time round not having the element of surprise on their side, Crimson Cult has opted for quality, improved song-writing and musicianship as their strength for ‘Tales of Doom’. Maybe not as catchy as the debut, the songs are, however, certainly at the same calibre, possibly even better. And if you are someone who enjoys their riffs and plenty of them, then ‘Tales of Doom’ will be right up your alley. The new disc will be sure to please those who also liked the debut, while fans of modern dark metal and power metal looking for something with some grit and aggression should hunt down both Crimson Cult releases.
(Pure Legend Records)