Boguslaw Balcerak’s Crylord – Gates Of Valhalla
Boguslaw Balcerak’s Crylord – Gates Of Valhalla (2014)
Reviewed by Mark Nagy
Boguslaw Balcerak’s Crylord is at it again, and the name is still a mouthful. I still don’t know how this guy sees himself notable enough to include his name in the band’s title, but there’s still a cast of great singers gathered around Mr. Balcerak’s considerable neo-classical talents. I criticized the debut from Crylord for being a bit soulless and lacking some of the elements to round out his sound. Ostensibly, he’s served us up seconds that we weren’t really even asking for. Yet I’ll always take an opportunity to hear Mark Boals sing. Joining Boals is fellow Malmsteen alum Goran Edman, along with Rick Altzi, the savior of Masterplan, and the list goes on.
For all the ‘project’ albums I hear every year, I’ve gotta say that Crylord is a cut above the rest, if only in vocal talent. Usually only Avantasia and Ayreon are able to pull consistent top tier talent, but Crylord certainly assembled an enjoyable cast. Also, unlike the new Timo Tolkki’s Avalon album I recently suffered through, Balcerak has no difficulty bringing out the best of each performer in his songs. It’s kind of like Ayreon for fans of Royal Hunt and Iron Mask.
Balcerak has grown as a songwriter on his second effort as well. While some choruses suffer from lyrical repetition (“Gates of Valhalla,” in particular), this is a more enjoyable listen overall, with catchier songs and cleaner performances. In particular, “Pompeii” is ridiculously catchy. Even as someone who shies away from the straightforward neo-classical stuff, I can tell this is really high quality stuff, and it’s nice to see a band show progress from a promising debut to a sophomore album that I can enjoy long-term.
While the album isn’t slow, it’s a bit of a shame that Balcerak doesn’t really let loose on his shredding more often. He can play some really fast solos, and he plays a lot, but it feels unbalanced without an assertive rhythm guitar to back it up at times. What he’s doing works for me, but I could have done with a better (or sometimes, any) prominence of backing guitar. The lack of rhythm guitars is balanced out by some really cool keyboard stuff, but at times, these weren’t well mixed against the squealing guitars and squealing singers, becoming distracting.
Crylord’s second release is a more engaging experience, it’s well written, without any notable filler or awkward material, and filled to the brim with great performances from Boguslaw Balcerak and his army of guest singers. This is an obvious recommendation for Malmsteen fans and the neo-classical metal crowd in general,but probably best avoided by those looking for intricate or unique material.
3.75 // 5