Crystal Eyes – Chained
Crystal Eyes – Chained (2008)
Reviewed by Daniel Millard
Album number six for now-veterans Crystal Eyes falls right in line behind precursors Confessions Of The Maker and Dead City Dreaming. Søren Adamsen is the frontman once again, and if nothing else, Chained is a mark of his growing prowess as a power metal mic-blaster. I would never say, however, that this where an assessment of Chained begins and ends – indeed, I think that the band has made some strides in advancing its approach with this work, and feels more comfortable and natural yet in blending its musical ingredients together.
Lead-off rocketeer “Ride The Rainbow” takes us on a melodic high ride through territory familiar from from albums both old and new. Adamsen’s screams and delivery here are immediately indicative of the kind of energy that he and Mikael Dahl infuse their collaborative efforts with. While Dead City Dreaming was a striking outing from the young vocalist, I firmly believe that he grew over the two-year period between albums, and, along with the renewed presence of a second guitarist (with rhythm man Paul Petterson joining for the album), is responsible for the greater feeling of vibrant energy that Chained exudes.
Even though the album does loll a bit in the middling tempos, there’s a bit more variety to be found as compared to Dead City Dreaming. Just take the first four songs for example: a hyper-melodic mid-tempo power metal opener, a slower, more vocal-centric grinder in “The Fire Of Hades”, a black-and-blue hard rock stomp with “The Devil Inside”, and a downright Running Wild tribute in “Waves Of War”. Honestly some of the riffing in this song sounds like it’s been pulled straight out of Rock’n”Rolf’s memoirs. The constant shifting of personas drops off a bit with the less thrilling “Dying In The Rain”, which is a bit of a disappointment in comparison to sandwiching tracks.
There’s no bottom falling out of this record, though. “Fighting” is a great, aggressive power metal track, even though the lyrical content is a little bit banal, and “Shadow Rider” actually kind of sounds similar to a couple of slower tracks from the band’s old demos. Three cheers for continuity! Dahl also returns to his old tradition of featuring a ballad at the end of the album, and it may even be the best that he’s ever written, in my humble opinon. The chorus of “Guardian” has a yearning quality, and the lyrics are up there with the best of the band’s fantasy penmanship. The only pity is the song’s short running time and the eternity spent waiting for a new album after this very touching conclusion to a most gratifying listen.
Chained isn’t bucking any trends whatsoever, but it’s a commendable follow-up on Crystal Eyes’ second phase of musicality. As such, it may be just the hook that some folks require to bite into this band’s discography for the first time. As I’m writing this review more than five years after the album’s release, newer fans of singer Søren Adamsen may well wish to visit some of his earliest work in metal, and now that the seventh full-length from the band has been announced, I anticipate that a new generation of power metal fans will care to give this band a listen as well. Of Crystal Eyes’ three most recent albums at time of this review, Chained is probably the best overall by a small margin, and the most advisable for those first checking out the band, especially from a modern perspective.
4.0 // 5