Crystal Eyes – Confessions Of The Maker
Crystal Eyes – Confessions Of The Maker (2005)
Reviewed by Daniel Millard
I would theorize that, when most people think of Crystal Eyes, this is the album that springs to mind most readily. The reasoning for this is simple and twofold: the mighty Daniel Heiman, by now famous in the power metal underground for his work with Lost Horizon, and having already guested for Crystal Eyes on Vengeance Descending, takes the microphone for the entirety of Confessions. Additionally, the advancing hard rock/heavy metal tendencies reflected somewhat on the prior album (and in the scene in general) began to come out more fully on Confessions, bringing with it a crisper production. The replacement of founder, guitarist, and former singer Mikael Dahl’s vocals with Daniel Heiman, who boasts a cleaner voice and considerably more proficient technical skills, makes this album feel all the more different than its three predecessors.
Before I dive in, I feel the need to agree with the wise words of Mr. Jonathan Smith (writer for The Metal Observer, Hell’s Unicorn on the Metal Archives, and my prime inspiration/influence as a reviewer), penned in his review on the Metal Archives. I’ve mentioned that this is the album that many people leap to when this band is mentioned, and inevitably it comes off as a letdown because it always seems to be compared to Lost Horizon. To be brief: Crystal Eyes is a very different creature. Neither Mikael Dahl nor Daniel Heiman were expecting nor attempting to make something on the same scale, and coming to this album with unreal stylistic expectations will undoubtedly result in disappointment. Take this for what it is: the fourth Crystal Eyes album, with an extremely talented vocalist lending his own dramatic touch to the group’s sound.
That out of the way, Confessions Of The Maker is a very stable and down-to-earth album that expands upon what the band experimented with on its predecessor with songs like “Metal Crusade”, “Mr. Failure”, and “Child Of Rock”. The general tempo here is certainly slower, the guitars are more subdued in deference to Heiman’s crooning and roaring, and there is less stratospheric power metal cavorting (with a couple of exceptions). Instead, hooky, medium-paced stompers dominate the more austere landscape, including the powerful opener “Charioteer”, the simple but stronghanded “White Wolves”, the riffmongering firecracker of “Terminal Voyage”, and the unusual and thrilling tale of “The Fool’s Ballet”. Even though the power metal dial may be turned down here, Dahl and co-axeman Nyberg are not about to allow the riffing to fall into the realm of simplicity. Solos and fills are omnipresent, and the duo maintains its reputation for easy, frolicking, and undeniably fun contributions.
Now, just because this ain’t Lost Horizon doesn’t mean that Heiman doesn’t cut loose once in a while. On the quicker numbers he seems a bit more at home, and this makes the frantic rush of “Panic” and the resplendent journey of “The Burning Vision” (Probably my pick for best-of-the-album here) that much more exceptional. However, comparing the material here to any and all of the band’s first three works results in a slip for those attached to the more adventurous, frenetic, and philosophical and/or fantastic lyricism featured therein. In what has become a Crystal Eyes tradition, however, Dahl pulls out a ballad for the closer. In this case, it’s “Silent Angel”: a remarkably lovely, though simple, denouement. Dahl himself takes the microphone for this last endeavor, and I can safely say that I don’t think Heiman could have sung it better.
And there you have it. Confessions Of The Maker is a laudable piece of work when assessed in the correct light: as the entry into the second generation of Crystal Eyes’ albums. While there is certainly some enjoyment to be gleaned for fans of earlier Crystal Eyes work, as well as Daniel Heiman’s career in metal, expectations must be properly tempered, lest they overwhelm common musical sense (just as one should not go to Power Quest expecting Dragonforce-levels of mania, nor to Demons & Wizards for a continuation of Blind Guardian antics). Those situations aside, this album is highly recommended for fans of the band’s later work without reservation, as well as for fans of melodic heavy/power metal where the guitar is still king.
4.0 // 5