Crimson Shadows – Kings Among Men
Crimson Shadows – Kings Among Men (2014)
Reviewed by Christopher Foley
It’s very easy to follow along with the general consensus regarding Toronto’s Crimson Shadows. DragonForce meets Children Of Bodom (or, you know, Demoniac with better production) – yep, you’ve got it. Extreme power metal. Wait, what? Whilst I wasn’t much a fan of the band’s prior output, sophomore effort Kings Among Men is an enjoyable romp in hyper-charged, sugary melodic death metal/power metal.
After a short intro you can expect predominantly up-tempo music, with an almost constantly speed-picked sixteenth note presence running rampant throughout. Nary a moment passes without some kind of lead guitar work happening, be it atypical power metal or folk melodies (which are admittedly the most enjoyable aspect here) or fret-board burning DragonForce-style speed runs. Even if you’re half as well versed in the world of power metal as I am, these will be elements you’ve heard before. Pretty much entry level power metal played at breakneck speed.
Counter balancing the hyperactivity is the more extreme elements of Crimson Shadows’ sound, mainly heard in the growled vocals which occupy a 60/40 split with the cleans. However, throughout the album the band pulls thrashing riffs and blast beats out of the bag, and while immediately recalling the likes of Norther, Sunless Rise, and the like, I’m also more than a little reminded of Nothgard’s first release – likely stemming from some of the aforementioned folk melodies.
It’s hard not to like this. The energy levels are high, and when melo-death is this in your face and unrelenting, you can’t go far wrong. Out for a morning run? Stick this on. Looking to get the hoovering done in short time? This will have you flying around the house slaying dust like nobody’s business. For my money, Crimson Shadows works better with its more dynamic numbers (of which sadly there are few) like “Braving the Storm”, a definite highlight. This is because, despite remaining up-tempo, the song meters the flailing double bass with some half time sections in the verses. Good chorus too, and another tune which gives me Nothgard flashbacks.
If there are any issues I have with Kings Among Men, first and foremost among them would be the clean vocals, which feel derived more from post-hardcore than power metal. These aren’t poorly performed, but don’t really appeal to my taste, and I don’t think they fit the music. I could say this is a fairly one dimensional album too, but one doesn’t really expect texture and depth from this particular niche. Overall, if you’re looking for something fast, care-free, and featuring a near constant barrage of lead guitar, Crimson Shadows is the band for you. Kings Among Men very rarely takes the foot off the accelerator, and even when it do, it’s a very brief relief of pressure.
3.5 // 5