Crystallion – Killer
Reviewed by Kevin Hathaway
When a band changes sound stylistically, fingers are usually quick to point at the record label for “pressuring” the band or for giving them money to write what the label wants them to write. One would hope that that was what happened to make Crystallion, formerly a very good melodic power metal band, turn into a lame hard rock band similar in some ways to fellow countrymen Edguy. But guess what? Crystallion’s fourth full-length release, Killer, was released independently. So that means that every uninspired riff, every half-hearted vocal line, every wince-worthy Def Leppard-ism, every one-line chorus that is repeated ad nauseum, is honest-to-goodness what the band wanted to do. In that light, it makes this record all the more heartbreaking, to see a good band willingly sink to material that is so beneath them and what they are capable of. Gone is the pure fun and melodicism of A Dark Enchanted Night. Gone is the epic scope of Hattin. Gone is the strong storytelling of Hundred Days. Nothing that made the sound of this band what it was remains here besides the voice of Thomas Strubler, and even he sounds bored out of his skull half the time, as if he’s thinking “Man, I can do so much better than this.” At least Edguy still sound like they’re having fun and it rubs off on the music. This is just abysmal.
I could understand if Crystallion at least made this transition sound good, but there is a severe lack of creativity and energy here. Most of the choruses just repeat the title of the song 3 or 4 times lazily (“I’m Alive,” which unfortunately is not a Helloween cover, is the worst offender, repeating the titular phrase some 2 dozen times over the course of the song). The keyboards are inconsequential to the sound aside from the putrid ballad “Change Your Heart” (no wonder the keyboardist left before this album was released), the bass is nigh-inaudible, the drumming strictly keeps a very basic beat and offers no variety, and the riffs sound lifted from filler songs of the worst hair metal bands in existence. The best thing about this work is Strubler’s vocals, which add a slight melodic edge, but even that aspect isn’t as good as it could be here. Even as a hard rock album, Killer is terribly uninspired, with forgettable lyrics, forced and repetitive choruses, and lazy, energy-sapping performances.
I really wish I could find something nice to say about this because I love Crystallion’s other works, but nearly every aspect of Killers is just sad to think about. I can’t even find it in myself to look for humor in how bad this is. Aside from the occasional guitar solo or chorus from Strubler (you know, before it’s repeated to the point where you never want to hear it again), there are no moments or songs which offer a glimmer of hope for this band and their tragic decision to play some of the blandest and most repetitive 80s-styled hard rock imaginable. This one’s a total clunker of an album that’s bound to alienate old fans and couldn’t possibly draw in any new ones unless they like uninspired 80s butt rock.
1.5 // 5